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Lafrenière and Kakko: Stuck behind too many talented Rangers players?

I’m one of those people who believes that cream always rises to the surface, that to conquer without peril is to triumph without glory, and that a rolling stone gathers no moss. Okay, that last quote is irrelevant. But you get the point, if you do what you have to do, if you put in the effort, at some point you should be able to achieve success.

Apparently, that’s not quite Kaapo Kakko’s vision, if my reading of one of his answers during the Rangers’ end-of-season review is right.

Asked what might help him progress next season, the Finn replied:

“Getting time on the power play and playing more. That’s the next step.” – Kaapo Kakko

This answer makes me cringe a little because it implies that he must be given these opportunities so that he can continue to develop. But in reality, no one has ever prevented him in his career to date from getting these kinds of opportunities. He’s simply never earned them, or at least never been able to force his coach’s hand to give them to him.

Because let’s face it, no coach deliberately deprives himself of talent. If you’re the best option for his club to win, he’ll use you. But for that to happen, you have to get him to see you as that, something Kaapo Kakko has never really done.

But this statement did make me wonder whether it’s possible for a team to have too much talent for certain types of players to develop properly?

In the Rangers’ case, Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafrenière find themselves ” stuck ” behind a number of elite players within their organization, and this means that they are confined to roles that don’t suit them very well, and in which they can’t quite make their mark.

I know, that last sentence seems to be completely at odds with what I was saying earlier. It’s a bit like the chicken and the egg, which came first? Do you have to get minutes on a team’s top-6 to develop as a top-6 player, or do you have to force the coach’s hand until you’re entitled to that kind of responsibility? In the case of the chicken and the egg, scientifically, we know that dinosaurs were laying eggs long before the first chickens appeared on earth. But when it comes to player development in the NHL, there’s no clear answer.

Take the case of Trevor Zegras in Anaheim, for example. He’s an extremely talented forward with golden hands. But would he really be able to put on a show and get all the minutes he wants if he were playing behind Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin? I don’t know. He gets, by default, opportunities that Kakko and Laffy don’t get. Perhaps to the point of hindering their development.

We can find examples of the opposite in NHL history, such as Martin St-Louis, who had to challenge John Tortorella to finally get a real chance to shine. Without this opportunity, would St-Louis now be in the Hockey Hall of Fame? Again, I don’t know.

Either way, would they benefit from a change of scenery? Possibly. Personally, I’m willing to give Chris Drury a try. But I’m clearly not open to offering a pick as high as 6th in the next draft to get my hands on Laffy, as Georges Laraque suggested yesterday. For me, it’s a big no-no!

Breaking news

– Stuart Skinner finalist for the Calder Trophy. Am I the only one surprised?

– His performance in the series may have been a cold shower for interested teams.

– The Remparts are a solid field hockey team.

– 9 seconds, that’s how long it took Alexis Gendron to score the game’s first goal.

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