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Rangers’ Alexis Lafrenière won’t play in 2021 World Juniors

Rangers' Alexis Lafreniere won't play in 2021 World Juniors

SECAUCUS, NEW JERSEY - OCTOBER 06: Jamie Hersch of the NHL Network interviews Alexis Lafreniere after his selection in the number one position by the New York Rangers in the 2020 National Hockey League Draft at the NHL Network Studio on October 06, 2020 in Secaucus, New Jersey. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

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With plenty up in the air regarding the 2020-21 NHL season, it would have been fun to watch Alexis Lafrenière tear up the 2021 World Junior Championship tournament. Instead, the Rangers decided not to release Lafrenière to Canada for the World Juniors.

Rangers won’t release Lafrenière to Canada for 2021 World Junior Championship

“After ongoing discussions with the New York Rangers, Hockey Canada has been informed that Alexis Lafrenière will not be released to represent Canada at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton,” Team Canada exec Scott Salmond said. “Although we are disappointed Alexis will not be able to join our team for World Juniors, we understand and respect the decision made by the Rangers.”

Really, the Rangers’ decision not to release Lafrenière to the World Juniors makes sense.

What if Lafrenière got injured? Similarly, there’s the added risk of contracting COVID during the tournament. Besides, would he really gain much from dominating that tournament once again?

On that note, there’s room for debate about the Devils making the same decision with Jack Hughes. While that would bring the same risks, maybe Hughes could’ve used the confidence-booster? His rookie season was ... troubling.

Then again, it’s not clear when the 2020-21 NHL season will begin. For all we know, Lafrenière might be in training camp around Dec. 25 - Jan. 5, the targeted window for the World Juniors.

Considering the widely held belief that Lafrenière could make an impact for the Rangers more or less instantly, this all makes sense.

Still, as hockey-starved as we all are, it would’ve been fun if his performances took on a Man Among Boys feel. Oh well.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.