Patience with Chytil and Rangers Center prospects the way to go

filip chytil
Chytil: Please. Don’t. Rush.

Following the weekend just gone, there will no doubt be plenty of calls to bring Filip Chytil back to New York at the earliest opportunity. Healthy again, the need at center still obvious (moving JT Miller again is not the answer) and fresh off a two goal outburst on the weekend, Chytil’s play is demanding attention.

Chytil is off to a tremendous start in the AHL with 11 points in 9 games but he is exactly where he should be. He’s the focal point of the Wolfpack’s offense, playing important minutes and is now starting to get comfortable with the system and the pro game in North America. The Rangers should be able to make the playoffs without him and should allow him to grow in Hartford at least for the short term. With the team’s logjam on the blueline at all levels of the organisation the team should also be able to upgrade the center position without losing anything significant in return.

Chytil’s strong start in Hartford and Lias Andersson’s strong play in Frolunda prove the Rangers were right to send both prospects to locations where they’re focal points for their respective teams and not bit part players for the Rangers. Mika Zibanejad is absolutely locked in as the Rangers top line center and Kevin Hayes is playing well enough that, while probably best suited as a 3C, he’s a competent option on the second line.

The Rangers are outside of the playoffs right now but it’s fair to look at the standings and expect significant change – change that should come without Chytil fast tracked into a peripheral role. Ottawa, Detroit, the Devils, Carolina all remain ahead of the Rangers but that’s at least four teams the Rangers should outlast and leapfrog. All four are less talented than the Rangers.

Looking at the standings, the Eastern conference is full of parity and inconsistent play. If the Rangers are intent on a short term injection of talent to get and stay ahead in the playoff race then going external for help at center is the way to go. Add depth, add a rental; just don’t retard any individual prospect’s long term development for a short term ‘win’.

Chytil and Andersson need to be playing regular hockey without significant expectation and, ideally, away from any major media scrutiny. On Monday Dave discussed the merits of Vinny Lettieri who is also off to a fantastic start in Hartford. Lettieri is indeed deserving of a promotion if the Rangers go the internal route. The Rangers have less commitment –and risk attached – to Lettieri’s development but here’s where I disagree with Dave. Let Lettieri also develop with Chytil in Hartford, again, without the pressure to perform and not playing ten minutes a game (at best?) in New York.

The Rangers need an upgrade at center; that much is obvious to anyone who has watched the Rangers more than once this season. The upgrade needs to come externally though. The Rangers appear to be able to get by as is. If that’s not good enough then deal from a position of strength – organisational defensive depth.

Consider the past few Ranger prospects that were given proper time to develop their games before making a splash in New York. Pavel Buchnevich wasn’t rushed to New York and he’s slowly becoming an integral part of the Rangers’ offense. Jesper Fast was given three full seasons in Sweden and 48 games in the AHL before he began to make an impact in New York – now he’s a mainstay for the Rangers.

Brady Skjei is another given time to hone his game outside of New York’s spotlight. Ryan McDonagh had 38 games in the AHL as well as additional seasoning in college. Chris Kreider wasn’t seen in New York for several years after being drafted. You get the point. Almost the entire core of the current Rangers roster were prospects that were developed properly.

The best recent examples of the Rangers successfully developing their own, were those that weren’t rushed to New York. The Rangers can compete, and should (lots of shoulds in this post in italics…) be able to make the playoffs, without rushing Filip Chytil and co. How the Rangers perform when they get to April will be influenced more by Jeff Gorton’s ability to handle the trade market than it will be by promoting an 18 year old prospect, no matter how tempting that may appear.

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  • Completely agree. Let him develop in the AHL, like you said, he’s the focal point of that team, there’s no reason to rush him and have him not live up to unrealistic expectations. Plain and simple, he just won’t get enough ice time to make an impact in the NHL, he needs to play 15+ a night.

  • I think at some point though, the Rangers will call up Chytil if this keeps up and there are no centers available for a reasonable trade cost.

    But I do agree that Chytil was best served going to Hartford, and not the Czech league for that matter.

  • All well and good. But Gorton has not proven himself on the trade front and has overpaid on at least 2 if not 4 or 5 trades. Also that one trade we make this year (if we make one) isn’t going to push the needle past another bad 1st or 2nd round exit unless they work some kind of miracle on the defensive side.

    • Brassard for Zibanejad AND a 2nd- best Ranger trade since Gomer for McDonagh. So, with all due respect, I couldn’t disagree more with your Gorton hasn’t proven himself on the trade front.

      • Fair enough, I conveniently forgot about that one.

        Staal – overpay
        Step/Raanta – will set this one aside for now
        Smith – overpay
        Was Talbot his or Sather’s?

        • You can’t blame him on th Stepan trade, it wasn’t his fault that the market was low on him to begin with. 2016 playoffs and the summer World cup games must have helped to bring his value down so Raanta had to be in a package deal to make it go through.

          • I realize it was another cap move but,

            I can blame him for not filling the center void once the trade was made. There were UFA options available other than Desharnais.

      • Hagelin trade is unforgivably bad.
        Stepan trade heading that way too. (Unless anderson has way more than he showed in TC)

        • Other than when he first arrived in Pitt in 2016, Hagelin has been hot garbage since he left the Rangers.

          The fact the Rangers aren’t stuck paying a 4th liner $4M a year for another year, makes the Hagelin trade a win. Fast and Hagelin have almost the same exact production since Hags was shipped to Anaheim, except Fast saved the Rangers close to ten million in cap space over the life of Hagelin’s recent 4 year contract.

          • Yes. To put numbers to it, Hags has a line of 1 goal and 2 apples in 21 games played so far. All for the price of $4mil per yr.

          • They got nothing back in the trade. His performance doesn’t make it a win. His forecheck was a big part of this team and a major reason for Hayes’ rookie season success. It was a salary dump, plain and simple. That doesn’t make it a win. It was a win for Hags though. 2 cups later.

          • They opted to send him back to Europe prob to work on his game, so … I’m not so sure of that

    • Carolina and Ottawa are actually good enough for a playoff spot. But the Devils and Detroit are truly atrocious teams. Those teams will eventually get passed standing still by better teams like the Rangers, Caps, Isles and Pens.

      Teams like Detroit and NJ that are on the lower end of the overall talent scale don’t shoot over 9% for an entire season. Once their puck luck evaporates, and it will, both teams will be facing some long losing streaks.


    This says it all, the kid is where he belongs for the time being.

    If we do indeed call him up for a cup of coffee, do so later on in the season, just to see how far he’s come from the beginning of the season. No need to rush him at this stage of his career.

  • We are a little better than a .500 team with playoff aspirations. Can be said of 15 other teams as well. I think the team has an identity that says they make the playoffs, and I am sure there is pressure from Dolan and MSG to get those 2 to 4 home games that are huge revenue grabs.

    Sure the best thing for the long term is to let the kids develop – but at the cost of missing the playoffs? Gorton has to make that difficult decision at about the midpoint of the season.

    No one thought the Avalanche would get the haul they got for Duchene, but they did. You think Montreal is just going to give away #2C? I feel Gorton must be working the phones, but nothing has been that appealing. He may need to bring up Letteri around Christmas, maybe to give the offense a spark.

    Buffalo seems to be in a tailspin, is there someone there we could use (not Eichel).

  • Again why isn’t moving Miller to center the answer? He is a natural center, as he can make plays and was solid on the back check against Ottawa. He gets better everytime he has an opportunity. The answer to the Rangers center ice woes is right under their nose.

    • His line scored but they looked like they were playing more defense than the top 6 lines and they were going against the Sens bottom 6. Miller had 1 good game last year at center while Hayes was hurt for a week. After that 1 game he went on to have the worst slump of the season at CENTER until Hayes got back and set him up with a freebie against Ellis, Josi ,Rinne and the Preds. If you really give a damn about his game than you would have caught what he said back in 14 when he said he enjoys playing wing more. AV even quoted him in the past offseason saying how JT prefers the wing but imo he belongs next to Hayes, they have obvious chemistry that will help in the long run.

      • “JT prefers the wing but imo he belongs next to Hayes, they have obvious chemistry that will help in the long run.”

        That is the worst place for him.

        1- The two of them together get shelled massively. The two of them were in the bottom 3 of worst shot differental last year. To an extent, the trend continues this year. Hayes is rebounding and his possession numbers are tolerable away from Miller this year, even being a positive relCF% and relFF% so far this year. Miller on the other hand, continues to get shelled in possession. His counting numbers make him look good, but bad things are happening when he is on the ice, namely prolonged stays in the defensive zone.

        2- There’s only one puck. Hayes prefers the puck on his stick, and isn’t as effective without it. Miller prefers the puck on his stick, and isn’t as effective without it. Hence the problem.

        3- Hot taek alert. It’d be smart for the Rangers to see just what JT Miller would fetch in a trade. His “counting” stats make him extremely viable and wanted. His decision making with the puck is suspect quite a bit of the time. He’s getting progressively worse in possession metrics. Lastly, he is providing you nothing in the playoffs. He has ~6 pts, 0 goals, in his last 24 playoff games.

  • Do we want to build for the future or do we realistically have a shot at the Cup? Not sure we can decide this yet, but come January, if we are feeling like we can make a deep run, get the kids here and ride their talent and enthusiasm.

    If not, we sell assets (Nash, Zucc, McD) and grab lots of picks play for 2018/19.

  • Chytil is a future stud player, let him develop,not too so sure on Anderson, who I feel is an Oscar Lindbergh type player. Gorton meesed up on leaving Lindbergh unprotected, he sure would fit great on this current Ranger roster. He is getting rave reviews in Vegas, and the stat sheets supports those kudos. The decision to leave their best 2 way center, who was just hitting his stride, who played with an edge ( see Ottawa series from last year) unprotected , is a monumental mistake. Gorton has done a good job, but leaving Lindbergh unprotected was inexcusable.

    • Bobby-

      Sorry buddy, but you are wrong. Look at the Rangers roster and tell me who you would have left unprotected instead of Lindberg. There was no choice in the matter. Now, if you want to criticize Gorton for not making some deal involving a draft pick going to Vegas in order to keep Lindberg, then ok, that’s reasonable. Certainly the big picture of Gorton losing two centers and not adequately replacing them is more than fair to call into question.

      But again, leaving Lindberg unprotected HAD to happen.

    • Bobby B,
      100% agree…..This is what vegas coach Gallant had to say about oscar lindberg””. “He’s been tremendous for us,” Gallant said. “The guy comes to work every day, never complains and does whatever you ask of him.” and from the other day……”We need to find him some PP time”’
      And you are right, he is just hitting his stride……and plays with an edge….Now we have NO 4th line which was great for us in the playoffs!!!!!
      Should have left stepan unprotected or made deal with vegas ….we didnt need anderson/deangelo trade!

  • I can’t with this Stepan talk like he’s burning up the league. He’s not a top center never was and never will be. I said it while he was here he got points off of others hard work. He floated on the outside never went to the net and never carried the to make plays. He would let others do that and benefit from their work. Over paid, slow and not the answer. Ask Phx on the last one. Both of these young players given time will outperform you know who. Let’s not mention his name again. Let’s not make a stupid trade where we lose young assets. I would stay the course until Vinny is ready for his shot in the short term. Long t erm it’s Fllip when his ready in February or March.

    • It’s not that Stepan is a HOFamer but that our center position is a complete clusterf–k.

      Derek would have mad this team much better, like him or not. And it could have been done if Smith were not signed..

      • No one said HOFer he’s not even first line. The Rangers wouldn’t be better with you know who. They would have his bad contract with a no move clause. Him floating around while other teammates do the heavy lifting. The PP is improved because of Shatty who wouldn’t be here.. Mika would be getting less crunch time minutes as would Hayes. This team is better today without you know who. If he was such a stud or even top center what’s the problem in Phx. Don’t give me that oh the team sucks because if you’re good you’re good anywhere. The Rangers carried his ass.

        • The point is my friend that Zib-Stepan-Hayes-DD or whomever without Smith

          is better than

          Zib-Hayes-whomever-whomever with Smith

          • No. You didn’t point out Shatty because you’re stuck on Smith who will be find. Plus you haven’t mentioned the two young skilled kids who came in you know who trade. Moves not just to make the playoffs but to win a Cup. Yes, down the road with a new core younger and more skilled. See what the Yankees finally did last year by keeping their number ones and not losing them by signing big name FA. They changed their approach and did their homework when it came to the draft. Trade assets a the deadline for NHL ready talent and high picks. While continuing the push for the playoffs. Build a young skilled team that can in two or three really push for the Cup.

          • Shatty could have come here with Stepan on the roster and without signing Smith.

            The Rangers have over $3M in cap space and the difference between Smith and Stepan is a little over $2M.

            So the narrative that the Rangers “had” to trade Stepan to sign Shatty for cap purposes is 100% wrong.

            They had to trade Stepan because they wanted to sign Smith. So what I’m saying is that I would rather have Stepan instead of Smith at this point.

        • I’m with you Richter….we would be much better off with Stepan on the team and I have no doubt that if they weren’t concerned about the NMC, they would have retained him.

  • Chytil needs to come up for a solid 10 game stint at some stage. He needs to go into the off season knowing exactly what he needs to work on. As any young talented kid, they don’t realize what extra effort is needed at the NHL level until they see/experience it for themselves. It would be a mistake to do that during the playoff run (ie last 15-20 games) as AV will have him on the pine for a majority of games. Best chance will be a Top 9 forward injury. As for Letteri, I would replace him for Carey immediately. Especially if he is going to continue to wasting Vesey on the 4th line. I really think AV is hockey dyslectic. Probably thinks Buchnevic resurgence had everything to do with being stuffed on the 4th line.

  • Chris-

    This is a great article and I largely agree with it. I’ve always preached patience when it comes to prospects. It’s a very fine line obviously, and every player is different of course. But to me, you run a huge risk when you promote a player to fast vs giving that player ample time to develop. I think the Rangers are doing the right thing with the younger players.

    Where I disagree, and this seems to be an ongoing theme from you and Dave in particular, is that we are pretty quick to deem certain teams “terrible” and we should easily do better than them. We heard that with Ottawa last year, and that was silly. They were a team very similar to the Rangers…a good but flawed team that, if they got hot, could make a run. This year, I can’t say I know much about Detroit because I haven’t seen them play, but I have seen a lot of NJ, and I have to tell you, IMO, they are not an awful team. There is plenty of talent there and while they will likely come back to earth, I think they are way better than people realize. Ottawa is a very good team. Carolina was supposed to be the most improved team in the league this year. They got off to a bad start but now seems to be playing better.

    This is not the pre-cap era where there were a plethora of awful teams. This is a very balanced league now—perhaps the most balanced league of the four major sports. Right now, other than TB and St. Louis on the high end (and I’d include Pittsburgh too because of their pedigree) and probably Florida, Buffalo and Arizona on the low end, this league is pretty balanced. There are few easy games, and few teams can put a playoff berth in the bank. So to suggest the Rangers making the playoffs is a given is silly. They are exactly what most thought…a slightly better than .500 hockey team (and remember, they were a .500 hockey team for the final third of last season too) that will fight all year for the final playoff spot. No better or worse than most of the rest of the teams in the league.

    One question on Andersson. I’ve been trying to follow his progress with Frolunda but according to HockeyDB he seems to be no longer on the active roster. Is that true?

    • They are not a .500 hockey club but are coached that way. Coach el smarto wants to force the players to play with unbalanced lines, some of which isn’t his fault and a majority of which is his fault.
      But who am I to complain about a coach with 7000 wins and no losses.
      Obvious mistakes cannot be said because he is the best coach ever and his poop don’t smell. Some of you AV fans will drink his bath water because you think he is perfect.

      • Never said he’s perfect…I just don’t go into these Bizzaro World rants that you seem to specialize in. The coach has been very succesful with a hardly stellar roster. Is he perfect? No. Could or should he be replaced? Possibly. Every coach has a shelf life. It all depends on who you replace him with.

        Florida made a huge mistake firing Gallant. Montreal has gotten no benefit at all it seems for for swapping out Therrien and bringing in Julien. Boston doesnt seem to have benefitted either. Good organizations don’t make knee jerk moves.

        I wouldn’t be shocked if a change is made after the season….IF the right guy is out there.

    • Hint: HockeyDB sorta sucks. Elite Prospects a better look.

      Andersson has had 2 goals in his last 2 games, back on track after a bit of overtraining over the summer.

      • I appreciate that. Good to hear. I figured you might be a little more clued in than most on our prospects.

  • A few years back, the Rangers would send their young players to the AHL, and let them stay there until they dominated the opposition. If they didn’t do that, they might get a cup of coffee, just to up their trade value. When the ones that did become dominant in the AHL were called up, they fit right in on the “big team”. Examples: Mark Staal, Dubie, and Cally. Maybe not superstars, but good, solid, players. I say they do the same with Chytil and the other kids.

  • I see the Rangers as being a contender again in four years depending on their asset management. With Shesterkin (If he comes and continues to develop) in goal and some of their young core as older vets supported by Chytil and Anderson, the team could be solid. At some point they could have two or three goalie prospects with NHL starter potential but now minutes for them in NYC (If Shesterkin is the real deal).

    Player-Chytil -Buchnevich

    Graves/Day/DeAngelo/UFA/Prospect/Draft Pick

    Depending on development, UFA signings trades, etc. They could have a pretty strong line-up. Anderson could be a first through 3rd line winger as well if they still have Hayes. If they have strong goal tending this could be a legit lineup in a few seasons–maybe even two seasons from now when Igor can come over and Anderson and Chytil might be starting their second year in 2019.

    If this is the case–I feel bad for Hank. It would be a little tough to see the Rangers win a cup within a few years of him hanging up the skates.

    Also, imagine if 6’5″ Gettinger does develop into a legit bottom six player?

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