With Chris Kreider and Artemi Panarin on the top two lines on the left side, which is Lafreniere's natural position, it is impossible for Lafreniere to get top six minutes as a left winger on the Rangers. That is not ideal for a former No. 1 pick. Moving to the right side would allow Lafreniere to play on the top six, and also allow him to play with star players like Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad or Chris Kreider.
The Rangers are depending a lot on their young players to step into bigger roles this season. Those players include Lafreniere along with Kaapo Kakko and Filip Chytil. Kakko seems like a lock for the top six. The Rangers hope he puts up more points playing with players with more offensive skill in the top six.
That is the same hope for Lafreniere. Although, the wrinkle is that Lafreniere has to handle playing on the right side well. The Rangers tried Lafreniere on the right next to Vincent Trocheck and Artemi Panarin briefly last season, and the advanced numbers rated their play well.
Peter Laviolette spoke about the decision with Lafreniere.
“Two days from now, lines are going to come out, and they won't be the same the next day,” Laviolette said, via Walker. “I want to look at different parts and different pieces through training camp, see if there's a connection with any of the players and give players opportunity to show what they can do in different situations. The same holds true for the exhibition games… It'll change through training camp. I really am a little wide open. I want to be wide open coming in here with what I see.”
It will be interesting to see if Peter Laviolette commits to Lafreniere playing on the right side in the regular season.
The Rangers open their season on the road against the Buffalo Sabres on Oct. 12.