For a team that is already in the possession of several prospects bringing young and immense talent to the table, the New York Rangers will be adding another star to their prospect pool after being awarded the No. 1 overall selection in the 2020 NHL Draft via the second draft lottery that was held on 6:00 p.m. (ET) Monday evening. Before we dive into what they can do with this selection, let’s review how we got here in the first place.
Previously… on [A Hit to the Head]
The Stanley Cup Qualifiers immediately gave fans the energy and intensity that they expect in a playoff game. Without any hesitation or awkward introductions, the NHL and their players hit the ground running, or hit the ice skating in this instance, and provided fans with high-scoring, big-hitting matchups with the typical drama we see in a playoff atmosphere. In the Qualifiers, teams such as the Montréal Canadiens and the Chicago Blackhawks — who were the final teams to make it into the 24-team playoffs — put on tremendous shows as they defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins (4 out of 5 games) and the Edmonton Oilers (4 out of 5 games) respectively. One team that did not show up though, was the New York Rangers, as they were the only team to be swept in the Qualifiers, losing to the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0 in the best-of-five-games series. On paper, and on the screen, the Rangers had no business being in the bubble. They were flat-footed the entire series, could not find any production from their roster, and their goaltending was abysmal, as the 38-year old future Hall of Famer Henrik “The King” Lundqvist saw his last playoff performance in the NHL. Because of their struggles in the Play-in round, of the eight teams that were vying for the top pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, none were more deserving than the Rangers. with 18.5% odds to win the lottery, New York was awarded the grand prize of picking first in the draft scheduled to be held on October 9th and 10th after the Stanley Cup Playoffs. If you’re a Rangers fan, you could not have asked for a better return for watching your team be swept in the Qualifiers than to be given the 1st pick.
“With the First Pick in the 2020 NHL Draft…”
Already having a superstar in Swedish center Mika Zibanejad, as well as having one of the best players in the NHL, Russian LW Artemi “Breadman” Panarin, the New York Rangers have the luxury of adding the top prospect in the draft, Alexis Lafrenière, as opposed to being forced to draft a player based on positional needs. Who is this guy and why do I keep listing him at No. 1 in my mock drafts? He is an elite forward who can make an immediate impact for the team who drafts him right away at 18-years old… That team just so happens to be the New York Rangers. Alexis Lafrenière is coming off his best season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) playing in just 52 games, in which he scored 35 goals and tallied 77 assists, totaling to a whopping 112 points for the Rimouski Océanic as their captain. In three years of playing for the Océanic in the QMJHL, Alexis played a combined 173 games, notching 114 goals and 183 assists to total 297 points (1.72 points/game), register 176 penalty minutes, and record a 128 +/- (+ for being on the ice when your team scores / – for being on the ice when the other team scores) in the regular season (per Elite Prospects). In the postseason, he played in 20 games over three years, putting up 13 goals and 17 assists for 30 points (1.50 points/game). In the 2019-20 season, Lafrienère was also a member of Team Canada in the U20 World Junior Championship — an international tournament that showcases the world’s best young players — and in five games for Canada, he tallied 4 goals and 6 assists for 10 points in the tournament. In short, Alexis Lafrenière is a demi-god and will be an All-Star for the New York Rangers in a minimum of 2-years. Write it. Print it. Copy it. Sell it. Alexis Lafrenière is going to be the best player in New York.
If there is any team in the NHL that should be worried for the future, it’s the New Jersey Devils, right across the Hudson River. The Rangers are revving up to annihilate the Devils next year, the year after, and many after that. The once-great and viscous rivalry will make a return as both teams are piecing together their franchise players. With three 1st Round picks in the 2020 NHL Draft — reminding you this is one of the best draft classes in decades — the New Jersey Devils are going to build their franchise in an expedited rebuild to match the Rangers. When I say to buckle up for this intense rivalry to return, that means arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times. This will be as fierce of a rivalry matchup as the Battle of Alberta between the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers, only the difference is that New York or New Jersey could easily win a Stanley Cup in the next five years. The New York Rangers will initiate the battle the moment you hear their selection with the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft this upcoming Fall.