A trade between two rivals? Never say never. The New York Rangers are currently facing a cap crunch and have just $11.7 million to sign free agents like Patrick Kane, Vladimir Tarasenko, Alexis Lafreniere, K’Andre Miller, and Tyler Motte. While not totally impossible, it’s unlikely the Rangers retain all five of these players. Instead, they might look to swap one out for a player on a friendly deal.
The first overall pick in the 2020 draft is coming off of his best season as a pro, but that doesn’t mean he’s living up to his potential. After the Rangers were eliminated in the first round and with Lafreniere scoring zero points in that round, the Rangers need something to change. For his career, Lafreniere is averaging just 14:25 of ice time, and just started getting consistent power-play minutes this season; it’s hard to fault him for his lack of development. Still, the Rangers can’t afford to bumble around with Lafreniere while other teams pass them by in the playoffs. Lafreniere would get a boat load of minutes in Philadelphia alongside Sean Couturier and the rest of the Flyers, and might finally see something click for him offensively.
Lafreniere is a restricted free agent this year, and the Rangers might be better off paying his money to someone else. Scott Laughton can play up and down the lineup and in different situations, and has a cap hit of just $3 million in each of the next three seasons. Laughton is also cheaper, younger, and more effective than Barclay Goodrow, who is also a a trade candidate this summer. The New York Rangers might also be willing to introduce Peterborough Petes star and former 16th overall pick Brennan Othmann to their lineup. This year, Othmann became an OHL Champion, won a gold medal with Canada in the U20 World Junior Championship, and was named to the OHL All-Star third team. In the playoffs with Peterborough, Othmann had 25 points in 23 games, and seems like a natural fit in the Big Apple.
Whatever the return, it’s clear Daniel Briere and the Flyers value Scott Laughton a lot. Although he’s not a star, Laughton might be worth keeping unless the price is right.