Rangers sign top pick Lafreniere to rookie deal


Alexis Lafreniere, the No. 1 pick of the 2020 draft, signed his three-year, entry-level contract with the New York Rangers on Monday. The deal is for $925,000 annually, the maximum allowed for rookies in the CBA and in line with other recent top picks.

Lafreniere is represented by Emilie Castonguay, the first woman to represent an NHL No. 1 pick as an NHLPA-certified agent.

The Rangers announced the signing on Monday, along with the news that Lafreniere will wear No. 13 with the team. The Rangers had never selected with the first overall pick in the entry draft era, which began in 1979.

Lafreniere, who turned 19 on Sunday, is a native of Quebec. The 6-foot-1 winger led the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with 112 points in 52 games before the season was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, earning him the Canadian Hockey League Player of the Year award for the second straight season. Lafreniere joins Sidney Crosby as the only players to win the award twice.

Lafreniere’s 2.15 points per game average for Rimouski Oceanic was the highest in the CHL since Connor McDavid had 2.50 in 2014-15. He was also the MVP of the 2019 world junior championship after scoring four goals and six assists in five games for Team Canada.

The arrival of Lafreniere officially transitions the Rangers to a new era. After New York bought out Henrik Lundqvist, traded Marc Staal and let Jesper Fast walk in free agency, Chris Kreider is the only remaining player from the 2013-14 Rangers squad that advanced to the Stanley Cup Final.

The team’s rebuild has been a rapid success, expedited by the splashy free-agent signing of Artemi Panarin last summer. Panarin was an MVP finalist in his first season in New York. Lafreniere figures into the Rangers’ new core, which also features 19-year-old Kaapo Kakko, the No. 2 pick in the 2019 draft, and 24-year-old Igor Shesterkin, one of the most promising goaltenders in the league.

The NHL is targeting a Jan. 1 start date for the 2020-21 season.

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