The moment Rangers and Alexis Lafreniere could revel in NHL’s worst secret

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It was the worst-kept secret in the hockey world, but the Rangers and Alexis Lafreniere did their part.

So when the Rangers finally made it official Tuesday night and drafted Lafreniere with the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft, both sides could exhale and begin looking to their promising future together.

“It’s tough to hide it all this time, we did our best,” general manager Jeff Gorton told Lafreniere on a Zoom call after making the pick, in a video posted by the Rangers.

“Yeah, I did too,” Lafreniere said to a chorus of laughs inside the Rangers’ draft room.

Ever since the Rangers won the lottery, shortly after getting bounced from the NHL’s playoff bubble in Toronto, Gorton had refused to show his hand, despite Lafreniere widely being considered a lock as the No. 1 pick regardless of who was selecting. He eventually revealed Tuesday night when he knew the Rangers would be taking the Canadian winger.

“I think when the ball came out of the machine, we knew he was going to be our guy,” Gorton said.

The pandemic made this year’s NHL draft completely virtual instead of being held on the floor of the Bell Centre in Montreal, but the Rangers tried to make it a special night for Lafreniere — a Quebec native — nonetheless.

Team president John Davidson told Lafreniere to congratulate his parents and sister, saying “it’s well-deserved by you, well-deserved by your family,” before Gorton invited them into the Zoom.

“Congratulations everybody, it’s quite a day for everybody,” Gorton said. “We’re all very proud and happy and looking forward to it.”

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