The first overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft scored his first professional goal when it mattered the most.
The New York Rangers were a part of a return-to-play bubble for the Stanley Cup Playoffs this past summer, but were the first team to leave Toronto after getting swept in the play-in round by the Carolina Hurricanes. Their early exit was rewarded after they won the first-overall pick in the NHL Draft Lottery, which gave them the rights to select superstar prospect Alexis Lafreniere.
The rookie winger went pointless through the first six games of the season, but that streak ended in crunch-time in his seventh contest.
On Thursday night, the Rangers entered overtime with a 2-2 tie against the Buffalo Sabres. Rangers center Colin Blackwell stole the puck off Sabres star Jack Eichel at center ice, skated into Buffalo’s zone and hit Lafreniere on a cross-ice pass. With goaltender Linus Ullmark crossed up, the rookie hit nothing but net to clinch the 3-2 victory for New York and the first official goal of his NHL career.
A goal Lafreniere will never forget
This was a much-needed win for the Rangers, who have been on a four-game losing streak since their 5-0 victory over the New York Islanders on Jan. 16.
Much like Trevor Lawrence in this year’s NFL Draft, Lafreniere was the consensus top prospect in the entire NHL Draft. In his three seasons with the Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL, Lafreniere tallied 297 points (114 goals and 183 assists) in 173 games, per HockeyDB.com. This was a kid NHL franchise’s wanted to build their franchise around. The lucky team to draft him was the Rangers, who already had Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Kaapo Kakko, Pavel Buchnevich and Filip Chytil at forward. This was the rich getting richer.
It took seven games and 13 shots, but Lafreniere has scored his first professional goal. And there should be many, many more to come.