Rangers agree with top pick Lafrenière on rookie contract

The New York Rangers agreed to terms Monday on a three-year, entry-level deal with No. 1 draft pick Alexis Lafrenière, who is expected to play in the NHL when next season starts.

Lafrenière signed a day after turning 19 and less than a week since New York selected him first overall. The Quebec-born left winger is another talented young player to add to the Rangers’ rebuild that could get them back to being legitimate contenders as soon as this upcoming season.

The league is targeting a Jan. 1 start for what it hopes to be an 82-game 2021 season. Lafrenière skated in 52 games for Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season, putting up 35 goals and 77 assists for 112 points.

Lafrenière was also the MVP of the world junior hockey championship last year, recording 10 points in five games to lead Canada to the gold medal.

The Rangers are hoping for more of that kind of production eventually from their first No. 1 pick since the universal draft was implemented in 1969. They also made a handful of free agent signings since the market opened Friday to improve, especially on defense.

They signed Jack Johnson to a $1.15 million, one-year deal after he was bought out by Pittsburgh and added fellow defenseman Anthony Bitetto, a Long Island native. New York also signed veteran Keith Kinkaid to be their third goaltender behind Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev after buying out Henrik Lundqvist, who joined the rival Washington Capitals.

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