The New York Rangers selected Canadian forward Alexis Lafreniere with the No. 1 pick in the NHL draft on Tuesday night.
Lafreniere was the NHL Central Scouting Bureau’s top-ranked North American skater. He becomes the first Canadian to go No. 1 since Connor McDavid was chosen by Edmonton in 2015.
From suburban Montreal, the 6-foot-1 playmaking left wing was the first to earn both Canadian Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League MVP honours in consecutive seasons since Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby in 2004 and ’05, when he also played for the Oceanic.
Lafreniere joins a young, developing Rangers team that features one of his favourite players, Hart Trophy finalist Artemi Panarin. The Rangers also have up-and-coming youngsters such as Kaapo Kakko, the No. 2 pick in last year’s draft, and defenceman Adam Fox, who finished fourth in the rookie of the year voting this season.
New York landed the No. 1 pick for the first time since the NHL established the universal draft in 1969. The Rangers bucked the odds by jumping ahead of the NHL’s seven non-playoff teams to win the draft lottery after being swept in three games by Carolina in the preliminary round in August.
They became the first NHL team to select first following a post-season appearance since the then-Minnesota North Stars in 1983, who acquired the No. 1 selection in a trade with Pittsburgh.
For more AP NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
John Wawrow, The Associated Press