Canucks have trade interest in former No. 1 pick Alexis Lafrenière: report

Jan 2 2023, 7:58 pm

Is Alexis Lafrenière the type of player the Vancouver Canucks could get back in a Bo Horvat trade?

We may soon find out.

The Canucks have trade interest in Lafrenière, according to a report from CHEK’s Rick Dhaliwal.

“The Canucks have checked in on Lafrenière,” Dhaliwal said in a Monday morning report, adding that the New York Rangers are “very aware” of Vancouver’s interest in the former first-overall draft pick.

“Lafrenière is the type of player the new regime in Vancouver is looking for,” Dhaliwal said, adding that the Canucks were also interested in Kirby Dach before he was traded from Chicago to Montreal last summer.

Canucks assistant GM Emilie Castonguay knows Lafrenière well, as his former agent.

Lafrenière, 21, was chosen first overall by the Rangers in the 2020 NHL Draft. An offensive star in junior, the 6-foot-1 left winger scored 21 points (12-9-21) in 56 games during his rookie season, and followed that up with 31 points, including 19 goals, in 79 games last year.

Lafrenière scored 112 points in 52 QMJHL games during his draft year and finished fourth in scoring at the 2020 World Juniors, with 10 points in five games, despite missing two games due to injury.

In his third NHL season with the Rangers, Lafrenière has 17 points in 37 games, but just five goals. His shooting percentage this season (7.8%) is well below his first two seasons (17.9% in 2020-21, 17.3% in 2021-22), which could be an indicator of bad puck luck.

The Rangers made Lafrenière a healthy scratch on December 29 in Tampa Bay. He was also made a healthy scratch by Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant on April 13 last season.

“‘Consistency’ is a word I’ve mentioned before and we want him to be better,” Gallant said after the latest scratch. “He wants to be better, we want him to be better and be more consistent.”

Whether Horvat alone is enough to pry Lafrenière out of New York is yet to be seen. The Canucks captain is having a career year, with 26 goals in just 36 games — a 59-goal pace. Horvat is a pending unrestricted free agent at season’s end and is due a big raise on his current $5.5 million salary.

Lafrenière, by contrast, will come much cheaper. He’s in the final year of his entry-level deal and is a restricted free agent after this season.

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