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Gerard Gallant Alexis Lafrenière to return to Rangers roster

Rangers coach Gerard Gallant has insisted Alexis Lafrenière will be back in the lineup on Saturday afternoon against the Red Wings, after the 20-year-old winger was the first of what could being several charge management packages over the last seven games of the regular season.

Although Gallant confirmed that Lafrenière would play, he didn’t reveal where the former first overall pick would line up. Lafrenière not only rotated on the fourth line in practice Friday, joining Dryden Hunt, Kevin Rooney and Ryan Reaves, but was also replaced in and out of the second unit on the power play.

“We’ll see where he goes, but he’ll come back,” Gallant said.

Lafrenière had skated on the left wing of the third line in the previous 10 games before being retired for the first time in his NHL career on Wednesday. Trade deadline additions Frank Vatrano and Andrew Copp had the opportunity to establish themselves in the top six and they did, leaving Lafreniere out of the top two lines.

Alexis Lafreniere

Even if he had met with success in particular with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider on the first unit, Lafrenière was moved to accommodate the new acquisitions. Lafrenière hasn’t scored a point in his last eight games and has registered just two goals and one assist since the line change.

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“We have four additional attackers and two additional [defensemen]said Galant. “It’s like that. We talked about it very early on with the players. Play well, play well and you’ll be in our line-up. The situation we were talking about last week, we’re going to rest the players and we’re going to rest the players when opportunity comes when they need it, if they don’t need it they will keep playing and trying to win hockey games.

“I made the decision the other night to rest Laffy. Not because he played bad hockey, he didn’t play bad hockey. But he’s a young boy and we look at the stats and we let’s look at the numbers, and we have doctors testing them every day.You take the advice of people and you look around and that’s what’s happening.

It’s likely that another big-name Ranger will have a day off Saturday, allowing Lafrenière to return.

Trade deadline acquisition Tyler Motte, who suffered a “significant” upper-body injury on April 7 against the Penguins in his ninth game as a Ranger, will be sidelined for at least the rest of the regular season.

“He’s a long way off obviously,” Gallant said. “We’re not looking for him for the next seven games, that’s for sure. We’ll take it one step at a time, but I haven’t heard anything. I just found out he’s been away for quite a while.

Defenseman Patrik Nemeth, who has been retired in the previous three games, returned to practice Friday after taking time off for what the team said was a personal reason.

New York Post

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