This Rangers star is due for a contract extension proving he's not a bust

June 16, 2024  (2:20 PM)

Alexis Lafreniere
Photo credit: The Hockey Writers

The New York Rangers are disappointed that they didn't make it further into the Stanley Cup playoffs, after being eliminated by the Florida Panthers.

However, they can't be happier that once thought to be a bust, Alexis Lafreniere has proven doubters wrong. As he emerged as a key played in the Rangers forward core this season. Lafreniere without a shadow of a doubt has proven his bona fides as a 2020 1st-round draft pick.

He had a career year in 2023-2024 posting 57 points( 29 G, 28 A) in 82 games, 26 of those goals at even strength!
He would continue his breakout during the playoffs scoring eight goals, while ranking fourth on the team in points with fourteen.
His breakaway goals, highlight goals, helped cement his break-out status, in Game 3 of the ECF.
Lafreniere is due a contract extension on July 1st, which begs the question will Chris Drury offer him a bridge-deal or sign him long-term?
Drury's first priority will of course be Igor Shesterkin, who will become a free agent on July the 1st, and will need to be extended prior to the 2024-2025 season start.
But Drury shouldn't put off talks of extension with Lafreniere in the meantime.

Lafreniere A Bust?

There were discussions of Lafreniere being a bust during the 2022-2023 season during Gerard Gallant's tenure in New York. Lafreniere couldn't crack a top-six spot in the lineup but had posted a career-high 39 points that season.
Lafreniere wouldn't be able to score a point in 7 playoff games against the New Jersey Devils either. Lafreniere would later sign a two-year $4.6 Million dollar contract on a prove-it basis, from Chris Drury and would shoot down the idea of trading Laffy.
With the arrival of Peter Laviolette, Lafreniere got time in the top six compared to Gallant's usage of Lafreniere as a depth winger. He would prove to be one of the top performers of the 2nd line, with Artemi Panarin and Vinnie Troecheck.
Lafreniere had proven his worth:
«He was excellent, he had an excellent year. His confidence, to me, grew the entire year, » Laviolette said on breakup day. «I thought his playoffs were excellent. He was productive. He was physical. He was noticeable. He was an impact player for us».

Lafreniere had a much slower start to his career than peers like Tim Stutzle or Lucas Raymond, who consistently perform with their respective teams.
Unlike Lafreniere, Stutzle and Raymond were promoted sooner due to the lack of depth on the Red Wings and Senators, compared to Laffy who had to fight for every inch of ice time.
He will be due for a major raise once attaining RFA status, but when the Rangers do sign Lafreniere will they allow him to reach UFA status in 2027?
That's where a contract extension comes into play, perhaps as early as this summer with the deal commencing in 2025-26 and likely digging into his early UFA seasons.

Lafreniere and his agent could use Stützle's contract as a benchmark. Stützle is on an eight-year contract with an annual cap hit of $8.35 million. It is not out of the question that Lafreniere could command a similar term and value on his next deal.

The time to lock up their former 2020 1st round draft pick is now since he has finally arrived and paid dividends for the Rangers.
Source: Forever Blueshirts
This rising Rangers star is candidate for contract extension
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This Rangers star is due for a contract extension proving he's not a bust

Should the Rangers lock down Alexis Lafreniere long-term?

Yes27895.2 %
No144.8 %
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