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31 in 31

Top prospects for New York Rangers

Lafreniere expected to have impact in NHL this season; Shesterkin set as No. 1 goalie

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 31 teams from Nov. 16--Dec. 16. Today, the top five prospects for the New York Rangers, according to


[Rangers 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Behind the Numbers | Fantasy breakdown]


1. Alexis Lafreniere, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 1 pick in 2020 NHL Draft

2019-20 season: Rimouski (QMJHL): 52 GP, 35-77-112

The Rangers are penciling Lafreniere (6-foot-1, 193 pounds) into their top nine forwards going into training camp. The 19-year-old is living with a billet family in Connecticut, where he trains with Rangers Chris Kreider and Adam Fox, among others.

Rangers assistant general manager Chris Drury said Lafreniere has the complete package of skating, shooting, vision, intelligence, intensity and leadership, and that his internal drive separated him in his draft class.

Lafreniere was the most valuable player of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Canadian Hockey League Player of the Year last season, winning each award for the second straight time, the first player to do that since Sidney Crosby (2003-05). He also was the MVP and best forward at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship, where he helped Canada finish first.

"He's a player we believe in and we think he's going to have a real positive impact in our lineup even though he's so young," Drury said.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

Video: 31 in 31: New York Rangers 2020-21 season preview


2. Igor Shesterkin, G

How acquired: Selected with No. 118 pick in 2014 NHL Draft

2019-20 season: New York: 12 GP, 10-2-0, 2.52 GAA, .932 SV%; Hartford (AHL): 25 GP, 17-4-3, 1.90 GAA, .934 SV%

Shesterkin (6-2, 182) supplanted Henrik Lundqvist as the Rangers No. 1 goalie last season after he was recalled from Hartford of the American Hockey League on Jan. 6. The Rangers bought out the final year of Lundqvist's contract Sept. 30 to clear the road for the 24-year-old to be the No. 1 going into training camp. 

"I just love his demeanor," New York coach David Quinn said. "I just love how confident he is. He has a great swagger to him. I love the way he handles the puck."

Projected NHL arrival: This season


3. K'Andre Miller, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 22 pick in 2018 NHL Draft

2019-20 season: Wisconsin (NCAA): 36 GP, 7-11-18

Miller (6-5, 210) agreed to terms on his entry-level contract March 16. He wasn't eligible to play in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers but practiced with the Rangers during training camp in the lead-up to the postseason, giving him a head start going into this season.

"With his athleticism and his skill set, it wouldn't surprise me if he was knocking on the door to make the team or play a significant amount of [NHL] games this year," Drury said. "With that said, it is a big jump for him. We're certainly not in a position to want to rush him."

Projected NHL arrival: This season


4. Nils Lundkvist, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 28 pick in 2018 NHL Draft

2019-20 season: Lulea (SHL): 45 GP, 11-20-31

Lundkvist (5-11, 187) is playing for Lulea in the Swedish Hockey League. Last season, the 20-year-old broke the SHL record for points by a junior-aged defenseman (under-20). The Rangers hope to sign Lundkvist after his SHL season ends.

"His hockey sense, his ability to move the puck, his offensive nose for the game was there [when we drafted him]," Drury said. "He's come such a long way in learning how to defend."

Projected NHL arrival: Next season


5. Vitali Kravtsov, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 9 pick in 2018 NHL Draft

2019-20 season: Hartford (AHL): 39 GP, 6-9-15; Traktor Chelyabinsk (KHL): 11 GP, 2-1-3

Kravtsov (6-3, 189) is playing for Traktor Chelyabinsk in the Kontinental Hockey League this season. The Rangers are encouraged by the 20-year-old because of the development in his 200-foot game. Drury said it's not known yet if he will join them for training camp or finish the season in the KHL.

"He's grown, he's learning, and I think he's in a good spot, developing well this year," Drury said.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

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