When the Rangers gained the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery and drafted Alexis Lafreniere, it was thought of a significant step ahead of their rebuild. Whereas Lafreniere isn’t going to be Connor McDavid, he was going to right away bolster the scoring depth on the Rangers. He struggled for positive, however he completed the season robust.
In 56 video games, Lafreniere completed the season with a line of 12-9-21, of which 8-5-13 got here in closing 25 video games. That leaves 4-4-8 within the first 31 video games. Not precisely the very best splits, however he was at a 40-point tempo to shut out the season. All this with out important powerplay time and largely taking part in on the third line. It was against the law that the primary total decide acquired 64 minutes of powerplay time this season.
Specializing in offense first, Lafreniere, like the opposite Rangers forwards, have been beneath league common. So evaluating this to the Rangers xGF/60 when he’s off the ice is necessary. Offensively, Lafreniere was a net-8% optimistic on the ice. We noticed flashes of his brilliance at instances, however it began to come back collectively later within the season.
Defensively was a complete different story for Lafreniere, who was a net-16% damaging. What’s slightly attention-grabbing is that the influence appears to be on the fully reverse facet of the ice. As a LW in David Quinn’s system, Lafreniere’s space is the highest left part of those warmth maps. But the greater blob of pink is within the backside proper part. So this requires slightly little bit of a deeper dive.
Focusing solely on Lafreniere right here, the defensemen he performed essentially the most with (darker shades of pink) have been Brendan Smith and Libor Hajek. Now issues begin to make sense for that big pink blob, don’t they? This actually means that the defensive impacts have been on account of taking part in with Smith and Hajek. However that doesn’t simply absolve Lafreniere of all blame. He was a rookie in a nasty system for protection. It will enhance.
Lafreniere’s RAPM confirms that he did have his personal struggles defensively. This isn’t irregular for a teenage rookie within the NHL.
Lafreniere’s closing grade, like Kaapo Kakko’s, is tough to gauge. Lafreniere struggled to regulate to the NHL within the early going, and it’s simple to elucidate that away with no coaching camp or preseason. He acquired it collectively to shut out the season along with his 40 level tempo, however this was additionally a far cry from a hopeful Calder Trophy season. It might have been a bit unfair to count on that, however it’s onerous to not get hyped over the primary total decide.
Lafreniere’s level totals have been considerably impacted by his lack of great powerplay time. That may (ought to?) change beneath a brand new coach. It’s actually a tricky 12 months to grade youngsters with little ice time. The top to the season
Alexis Lafreniere 2021 Report Card Grade: B.