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Alexis Lafrenière: don’t rule out a trade next summer

It got a little lost in the shuffle with the announcement of Auston Matthews’ contract extension in Toronto yesterday, but Alexis Lafrenière also signed a contract yesterday. The Quebecer, who had been a restricted independent player, finally signed a two-year contract for just under $2.5 million a year.

And it’s actually a good deal for the team, which could benefit if Lafrenière explodes and retains some flexibility.

In a world where the salary cap exists, that very flexibility is important. We know that teams often struggle to meet the salary cap, and since it’s been frozen for the past few years, the bottleneck is getting bigger and bigger.

It’s a good thing it’s set to increase by a few million dollars in a year’s time, at least.

On the other hand, even if it’s an interesting gamble for the Rangers, the fact remains that we don’t know if Lafrenière will necessarily move up to the next level this season. It’s also possible that he’ll continue to stagnate, so the Blue Shirts would have some serious questions to ask themselves.

And if that were to happen, Elliotte Friedman thinks we’d have to look into the possibility of trading him in 12 months’ time.

Friedman sees the two-year deal as one that guarantees Lafrenière a year in New York, but leaves plenty of options open for the second season. If he finally breaks through this year, the Rangers won’t be shy about keeping him, but if he doesn’t, the idea of him being traded will once again become the talk of the town.

And that’s where the Quebecker’s salary offers the team options.

At $2.325 million for one year, Lafrenière’s contract won’t be impossible to trade. The salary cap will have gone up, and teams will be willing to take the gamble for a year.

I don’t know if the CH will be one of them, but after acquiring Kirby Dach and Alex Newhook, it wouldn’t be surprising. It’s still early to think about which teams might go after him, but it’s still interesting.

The Rangers will give Lafrenière a chance to break in with a new coach (Peter Laviolette) this season, but if things continue to be quiet, things could get a little shaky next summer.

So it’s up to him to give the Rangers reasons to continue trusting him.

In gusto

– I’m leaning towards the Oilers, but it’s tight.

– Speaking of Quebecers who’ll have to prove themselves this season.

– Sad scene.

– It’s never pleasant to see an elite athlete forced to retire due to health problems. My text on the case of Stephen Strasburg, who will unfortunately hang up his cleats shortly.

– Anthony Edwards is the flavor of the moment in the NBA.

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