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David Quinn discusses DeAngelo's and Lafreniere's role to start the season

January 3, 2021, 3:18 PM ET [87 Comments]
Jan Levine
New York Rangers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
David Quinn had his initial session with the media today. In that zoom conference, he revealed who will open opposite Jacob Trouba, where Alexis Lafreniere will line up initially and gave a hint as to who might be competing for the fourth line center role. 

Tony DeAngelo is the first contestant to line up opposite Trouba. ADA did play on the left side for Sarnia of the OHL and we had speculated that he might get a shot at the role. Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren remain the second pair, leaving a hole on the third pairing.

Jack Johnson, Brendan Smith, Anthony Bitetto, Tarmo Reunanen and K'Andre Miller, as well as Libor Hajek, if he gets his work visa timely, all are in the mix. I doubt Quinn goes with an all-rookie pairing of Reunanen and Miller, though you could shelter that third pair, at least initially.
Presuming Hajek is delayed, I would think we see Johnson and either Reunanen or Miller as the third pair to start the season with the other along with Bitetto and Smith on the taxi squad. But if the kids look ready, I would love to see them get a shot, though that's a unlikely occurrence.

All the speculation about one of the big three left wingers moving to the right side can be ended for now. Chris Kreider and Artemi Panarin remain in their spots while Lafreniere will line up on the third line. That trio is young, without much experience, but they all have talent. Filip Chytil gets a chance to prove he belongs at center while Julien Gauthier is penciled into a top-nine role. New York has other options, including Morgan Barron and Brett Howden, if either Chytil or Gauthier falter. But, the plan, at least to start the season, is for the Laf-Fil-Gaut line to open the year. Kaapo Kakko will have the first opportunity to replace Jesper Fast on a line with Panarin and Ryan Strome.

With Mika Zibanejad out, Howden and Barron are slotting between the top and fourth line. As Vince Mercogliano points out, that likely means the two are batting for the fourth line center role. A bit surprised Kevin Rooney, given his PK prowess and size isn't in that mix, but he is probably battling for a right wing spot on that line, possibly against Phil Di Guiseppe. Brendan Lemieux is penciled in as the fourth line left wing with Colin Blackwell a taxi squad candidate.

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