Can The Anaheim Ducks Make a Play For Alexis Lafreniere?

QUEBEC CITY, QC - OCTOBER 18: Alexis Lafreniere #11 of the Rimouski Oceanic skates prior to his QMJHL hockey game at the Videotron Center on October 18, 2019 in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Mathieu Belanger/Getty Images)
QUEBEC CITY, QC - OCTOBER 18: Alexis Lafreniere #11 of the Rimouski Oceanic skates prior to his QMJHL hockey game at the Videotron Center on October 18, 2019 in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Mathieu Belanger/Getty Images) /

Alexis Lafreniere is the consensus first overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. Do the Anaheim Ducks have a chance to make a play for him?

At the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, the New York Rangers are set to select the coveted Alexis Lafreniere with the first overall selection. They won’t overthink the selection too much, and will, without a doubt, go to the virtual podium to select the player widely discussed as the best player in the 2020 draft class. However, this could open up a chance for the Anaheim Ducks to slide in and make a deal.

The problem the Rangers have is that they already have one of the best left-wingers on the planet in Artemi Panarin locked up for many more years. Chris Kreider, as well, now has a long, long, term left on his deal. Should Lafreniere come into the NHL and be a star, it is likely that the Rangers could have all three LW’s all paid over $6M per season in just three years time. However, the Rangers are quite weak at center.

This is where the Anaheim Ducks come in. Currently, the Ducks have one of the hottest center prospects outside of the NHL, just waiting to slide in and start making plays for some freakishly talented goal-scoring wings.

A Hefty Price to Pay

I am thinking, of course, of Trevor Zegras, who has been ranked amongst the top prospects available by numerous sources, including being placed as the best prospect overall, by The Hockey Writers. Naturally, the Ducks would be hesitant to give up someone so talented, however, if they want to acquire the type of talent that has been compared to Sidney Crosby, then they’ll have to give up some big pieces.

The Anaheim Ducks could also consider giving up the #6 draft selection in the 2020 draft. Essentially creating a trade of the #6 (2020) and #9 (2019) draft selections for the #1 (2020) draft selection. On most days, a trade that the Ducks would jump at, and one that the Rangers would knockback in an instant. Yet, Zegras coming on as strong as he has alters the scenario.

Rangers fans could settle in knowing that they could set up their spine with Mika Zibanjed on the first line with Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich. Zegras would then be able to man the second line with Panarin and Kappo Kakko, leaving the hopeful Filip Chytil to center the third line. The 6th overall draft selection would then allow them to swing for a goal scorer of the likes of Marco Rossi or Alexander Holtz, allowing them to create three potentially dominant scoring lines.

The Ducks, on the other hand, would be giving up the opportunity to fill in one-third of their top 6 with Zegras and the player to be selected at #6 overall in the draft. Given how weak the Anaheim Ducks team is at present, and how lowly their prospect pool is ranked in the league, this may be too steep of a hill for them to climb. However, it would net them a player who can likely come in and contribute right this moment and who could be a Duck for the next 10-15 years.

Thinking Both Long Term and Short-Term

This gives the Anaheim Ducks options both in the short term and in the long term. Firstly, maybe they really can rebuild on the fly, and get Getzlaf to the postseason dance one or two more times. It’s not a huge concern perhaps for a rebuilding team, but it certainly would be nice for the players and for the fans.

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Secondly, it would allow the Anaheim Ducks to have a name brand player they could market now and into the future. For a team that is low on star power, drafting at #1 overall for the first time in their history would be a massive coup. Especially in a year with such a high-end player available.

Edmonton has shown the Ducks that a single player can’t make a team, however, the Ducks still boast a strong netminder as long as John Gibson mans the crease. They also have a relatively strong defensive unit, that while is open to improvement, is one of the youngest in the league and still contains Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson, and Cam Fowler.

Bringing in one more top-4 defenceman could really strengthen the blue line, assuming the Ducks continue to persevere with the youth movement in that area. Up front, the Ducks have some concerns with a lack of genuine scorers on offer. However, despite some chagrin over the Kasperi Kapanen trade not coming off, Sam Steel sits only 6 career points behind him in terms of points per game pace.

Troy Terry has the makings of a strong defensive player. Max Comtois appears to be a reasonable fit for a third line power forward role, as does Max Jones. Benoit-Oliver Groulx also looks like a solid addition to the NHL team in the future.

It isn’t an incredible line up of talent, but they are all clear NHL players that can contribute to a successful team in the right circumstances. The Anaheim Ducks also have Rickard Rakell lining up on the LW, as well as Adam Henrique and Jakob Silfverberg remaining productive veteran influences. Ryan Getzlaf is still around for the foreseeable. All that is to say that Lafreniere wouldn’t necessarily be the only player on the Ducks. He would be the clear marque brand-name scorer, but he wouldn’t necessarily be required to do it all.

It’s tough to imagine the Ducks being able to pull this trade-off, however, a little luck selecting Zegras makes the idea plausible. It may take some convincing to push the Rangers into buying in, but the Anaheim Ducks have what the Rangers need, and have some attractive pieces to push. It’s a pie in the sky fantasy… but sometimes it’s fun to dream.

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