Lafrenière and Rangers reach “a critical point”
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Lafrenière and Rangers reach “a critical point”

Things are ugly between the former 1st overall pick and head coach Gerard Gallant.



When the New York Rangers line up this evening to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning, they may be doing so with former 1st overall pick Alexis Lafreniere watching from the press box.

Head coach Gerard Gallant demoted Lafreniere to the fourth line in practice yesterday and could possibly make him a healthy scratch for tonight's game.

From Rangers insider Arthur Staple of The Athletic:

Gerard Gallant was all positive after a short, hard skate on Wednesday, which featured more changes to his inconsistent forward group. The biggest change was seeing Alexis Lafrenière on a fourth line that comprised four players, meaning that one of Lafrenière, Sammy Blais (healthy scratch the last two games), Jonny Brodzinski, or Jimmy Vesey will be the scratch for Thursday’s game in Tampa.

“Laffy has gotten some chances to play with good people and he’s played well at times, but it’s inconsistent,” Gallant said on Wednesday. “And again, there was a bunch of them (that were bad on Tuesday) night. So Laffy is getting maybe knocked down today in practice. Not saying he’s going to be there tomorrow. I don’t know where he’s going to be tomorrow. Sometimes it’s a wake-up call for the kids.”

The 21 year old Lafreniere has struggled this season with just five goals and 17 points in 36 games so far this season. About this time last year Lafreniere was demoted to the 4th line by Gallant and it appeared that he got the message. From then on he went to score 11 goals in the season's remaining 35 games and followed it up with a post-season where he showed glimpses of his #1 overall talent. Heading into this season, Lafreniere looked poised to break out. And then... well... he hasn't. He's been pretty mediocre and a borderline healthy scratch on more occasions than not.

Staple now reports that Lafreniere and the Rangers are reaching a "critical point" in his development, leading to speculation that a change of scenery could be coming.

“He doesn’t seem to accomplish much out there with or without the puck,” said one NHL scout to Staple for his most recent column. “When you watch him play it’s hard to find him out there, has little impact on the outcome. I don’t know if it’s lack of confidence but his processing seems a little bit of a step behind.”

There's no doubt that Lafreniere has had a disappointing NHL career to date, but I have no doubt that there will plenty of interested suitors if he does indeed end up on the trade block. Stay tuned.

Source: Arthur Staple