Islanders: Consolation prize Alexis Lafreniere would solve many problems
If the New York Islanders happen to get Alexis Lafreniere he would fix a number of issues.
As one of the 24 teams left, the goal for the New York Islanders (and the other 23 teams still remaining) is the Stanley Cup. Every decision made by the owners, to the GM, to the coach is to eventually win a Stanley Cup.
But, thanks to this year’s draft lottery system the Islanders and another seven teams can pull the first overall pick in 2020 if they lose their qualifying round matchup.
For the Islanders picking first would solve a lot of problems for them.
The consensus first-overall pick is likely going to be Alexis Lafreniere from the Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL. In three years with the Oceanic, Lafreniere has put up monster numbers in the Quebec Major Junior Leauge.
In 173 games, Lafreniere has amassed 297 points with three 30+ goal seasons. In 2018 he won Rookie of the year as well as offensive rookie of the year. He’s also one of two players to win the CHL’s player of the year twice. The other player was Sidney Crosby.
Just about every aspect of his game is elite.
- Here NHL Central Scouting’s J-F Damphousse labels Lafreniere’s hockey IQ as elite.
- Here The Athletic’s Corey Pronman (subscription required) describes how Lafreniere is one of the most purely skilled players he’s “ever seen”.
- Prospect Pipeline talks about his “equally intimidating” shot.
- The kid “just gets the sport”
If he has any weakness its perhaps he’s not the fleetest of foot – he’s not slow but he’s not Mathew Barzal either – and he needs to learn how to hone his… competitive spirit (is the best way to put it).
When he gets to the NHL, there’s no doubt that Alexis Lafreniere will have a big impact.
Over the last two seasons, the New York Islanders have been able to amass an 83-50-17 record for 183 points, the seventh-best record in the league. And they’ve done so while short on top tier talent.
The Islanders are loaded with top-six and middle-six forwards from Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Anthony Beauvillier, Jordan Eberle, and Josh Bailey, but they lack much top-line talent. Mathew Barzal is the lone exception.
Getting Lafreniere would push one of them down to the second line, and another one likely out of the roster entirely. That not only brings the possibility of cap savings but it also brings balance to the lineup.
The Islanders run a system that prioritizes creating quality over quantity. To make such a system work a team typically needs top-end talent to bury those quality chances. That’s why Barry Trotz’s system worked in Washington with guys like Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Kuznetsov in the lineup.
That’s why the Islanders have been so starved for offense over the last two seasons. While they create enough chances with the sixth most HDCF they also rank 19th in xGF both since 2018-19. So while they take a good number of shots from key area’s these shots aren’t quality shots.
Adding Lafreniere would give the Islanders that extra top-tier talent they need to start creating better quality shots and even burying them at a higher rate.
And, as a rookie, his contract would fall under entry-level limitations for the next three seasons. Something the Islanders desperately need as they try to fit extensions for Barzal, Ryan Pulock, and Devon Toews with some $8 million in cap space.
This shouldn’t be mistaken as advocating for the Isles to tank in order to get the first-overall pick. But, if the Islanders happen to lose their play-in round against the Florida Panthers, Alexis Lafreniere is the best consolation prize possible.