Nashville Predators Should Offer Sheet Alexis Lafreniere

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 18: Alexis Lafrenière #13 of the New York Rangers during warm up prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 18, 2023 at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 18: Alexis Lafrenière #13 of the New York Rangers during warm up prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 18, 2023 at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Getty Images) /

If you were not convinced of the Nashville Predators intentions despite being signaled at many times in the past, you definitely are now. They are prioritizing getting younger and rebuilding for the future, and Alexis Lafreniere is a player who fits that bill.

The Predators just bought out Matt Duchene, which even for the fans who saw a massive overhaul coming, was a major shock. They just opened another spot in their roster, and the in-house replacements include maybe three total guys from Milwaukee and probable reserves.

Even for a rebuild, those are not adequate options, and when you add that the Nashville Predators are now over $2M under the cap, they have to make a roster addition of some sort.

Luckily, there are currently unsigned players who could be options for the coming year, and Lafreniere is one of them. That is of course if the New York Rangers can’t find a way to keep him, which according to Elliotte Friedman, they are committed to keeping him in the Big Apple.

Alexis Lafreniere is a perfect fit for Nashville Predators current roster

Lafreniere is the former first overall pick for the New York Rangers who has not lived up to expectations. That is obviously not a good sign for someone who was drafted so high, but why he struggled is slightly understandable looking at the structure of their team.

The Rangers had some top six wingers, most notably Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider, who prevented Lafreniere from getting a major opportunity in the top six. Surely there are other factors due to both himself and the team that have prevented him from reaching his potential, but it either way it seems as if he could use a fresh start.

At this point, the Predators offer Lafreniere a great opportunity to rejuvenate his career.

The Duchene buyout leaves them extremely thin at forward, particularly in the top six. Lafereniere would be the likely favorite to take that spot, and his playmaking abilities could make him a nice fit with a pure shooter in Filip Forsberg.

No matter where he put Lafreniere, he would be all but a lock to take on more responsibility than he ever has in his career, as well as eclipsing his average time on ice. Being able to do that on a team that is getting younger and rebuilding is the exact kind of fresh start he needs, and it is hard to see him not agreeing to an offer sheet.

And that would be the perfect way for the Predators to take advantage of a cap-strapped team like the Rangers. They may have a little over $11.5M of cap space, but that is only with eight forwards, five defensemen, and one goaltender under contract right now.

If the Predators were to sign Lafreniere to a one-year, $4M contract or something similar, that would force the Rangers to quickly make a decision that would greatly inconvenience them.

Theoretically the Rangers could get a deal done, but burning over a third of their remaining cap space on one forward — who has been fairly mediocre in his first three years – with five other spots to fill might be an unwise decision since they have to contend for Stanley Cups.

They would only have a week to decide, and I would contend that it is more likely than not that they opt to let Lafreniere go. In that case, they would leave open the options of addressing their roster holes later, rather than limiting their resources from the start.

And rumor has it that the Rangers are going to sign Jonathan Quick when free agency opens up, so that could limit them depending on how much they pay him.

Of course, the Predators would be forced to give up draft compensation in the event of an offer sheet, and would need to be careful about how much they paid Lafreniere. That is why a one-year deal worth $4M would make sense, because that would cost them only one second round pick next year.

They have three second round picks in 2024, and one of them is from the Winnipeg Jets, who are trending towards not being very good this coming season. It is hard to say that sacrificing one of those second rounders for a first overall talent in Lafreniere is worth it, as the potential rewards from the move are astronomical.

At the very least, it would be a short-term contract and Lafreniere would still be a restricted free agent at its conclusion. The Predators would still have the ultimate control of where he could and could not sign, so bringing him in is something that would actually prepare them for the future.

Barry Trotz has clearly shown that he will take a long time to rebuild this Predators roster, but the Duchene buyout puts them in a situation in which they literally have to make a move to become cap compliant.

Lafreniere absolutely fits now and moving forward, so why not roll the dice?