Hockey TacticsPlayers

Moving Filip Chytil to the wing is the right call, for now

Filip Chytil made his debut on LW last night against Colorado. The 2017 first round pick was drafted as a center, but has been one of many Rangers to have scoring struggles through the first two weeks of the season. In five games, Chytil hasn’t scored yet and has a pair of assists. It’s not like any of the other Rangers were scoring either, but that’s neither here nor there.

It’s a little early to be looking at some of the possession stats, but it should be worth noting that despite the lack of goals and points –again, a team wide problem– Chytil actually leads the team in xGF% at 64.71%. He’s been on the ice for two goals for (he assisted on both) and one against. He’s also in the middle of the pack for possession stats. It’s again incredibly early, but there was no real statistical evidence to show he was struggling.

When it comes to a shift from center to wing, the largest impact on the player will be in the defensive zone. In David Quinn’s defensive zone system, the center is tasked with covering the high slot in his unique 2-1-2 defensive zone system. I need a little bit more time of sustained defensive zone pressure to be 100% confident, but that’s what it looks like.

The wingers, on the other hand, are tasked with pressuring the points and disrupting the cycle. Their goal is to limit time to setup and cause quick turnovers. It’s less pressure on the winger from a coverage standpoint, as they aren’t tasked with protecting high danger areas. The shift takes one aspect of the game out of Chytil’s mind, and allows him to focus on creating offense.

Young players often shift from center to wing when they first get to the NHL, as it is eases the transition significantly. For someone with Chytil’s potential elite level skill, the move is designed to help him worry about offense first, be creative, and use those elite level skills. Chytil is a smart player, so the move is more about getting him going than it is about any perceived defensive zone issues.

But perhaps the most logical reason for the shift has nothing to do with stats or making the on-ice role simpler. Brett Howden’s play has earned him a top-nine center role, and there is a need to keep Chytil in the top-nine for playing time purposes. Kevin Hayes and Mika Zibanejad already have solidified top-nine center roles, and Howden makes three. To keep Chytil in the top-nine, a shift to wing is needed. After all, the simplest explanation is most often the correct one.

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  • Whatever works…Chytil needs to call the strength and nutrition departments….Kid has the tools

    • 1 inch shorter than Buchnevich, 8 lbs heavier. Saw him in workout gear in TC, was way more muscle than baby fat.

      Chytil likes to overlap to the right and set up from the wall, maybe they need to have his winger (if on his off hand) set up in the slot or(if on his regular hand) set up at the Ovie spot.

  • I one million percent disagree.

    This is the year of the “rebuild” and not finding ice time at center for possibly the best prospect we have in the organization borders on criminal. Who gives a crap whether he can play a 2 way game right now? How else to learn on how t0o play a 2 way game than actually playing in those situations?

    This is where the org loses me on their “rebuilding plan”, BS like this. Or having line ups that include stiffs like Staal, Smith, McLeod, McQuaid, etc. Even Spooner taking PP time away from Chytil is ridiculous.

    • Richter – you make valid points. If Hayes goes at the deadline and then we move Chytil back to center, why wouldn’t we want him to learn playing center in the NHL now? I would rather see Chytil on a line as first line center with Zibby and Krieder on his wings at this point. Or move Hayes over to a wing, along with Zucc with Chytil the center there. Practice what you look to deploy NEXT YEAR, when the NHL matters again.

      • Hey Sal, but my point is that, other than Zib (maybe), no Ranger should be keeping Chytil from playing valuable minutes at center. No one. Not Hayes, not Spooner, not Howden, no one.

        And when Andersson gets here, same thing, he should get prime center minutes.

        • I disagree. It doesn’t hurt to ease Chytil in … in fact he’s the best candidate to move to the wing as Howden oozes competency as a two way centerman right now. With regard to Zibby and Hayes, if either one is to be traded by the deadline then they have to be put in the best possible position to succeed — as it is we’re already ruining the value of Spooner and Vlad the Impotent (not that they’re helping matters with their play).

          In any event, chances are we’ll be seeing a few injuries down the line. There will be plenty of time to slot Chytil at center … there’s nothing wrong with a Center who can also play the wing, in fact that type of flexibility can be invaluable over the course of a long season.

          • Chytil played a little in the NHL last year and then in the AHL. Being highly skilled, not putting him in the top 6 is a big mistake, including not playing him at center.

            Red flag #1: Quinn admits he’s not getting enough minutes.
            Red flag #2: Now the talk of putting him at wing when Gorton clearly stated that the young guys would be playing their natural center positions.

            Who is running the asylum? And before you jump all over me (lol), I am repeating their words and statements, not voicing my opinion by mentioning these “red flags.”

            As for my opinion, Chytil should be the #2C and stay there, with good wingers to play with.

        • Hey Tony, I don’t really disagree much with your points. However, I think that Chytil has looked a little overwhelmed physically at times. They may be doing this to protect his physical health too.

          • Hi Peter, I don’t disagree with you either. But here’s where it gets dicey. Is Chytil overwhelmed because he’s not ready or is Chytil overwhelmed because the Rangers have not had the same line up nor even lines for the first 6 games of the year?

            Has anyone, rookie or vet, played well for the games that they have played in? Other than Henrik, who is the only Ranger to know where he’s playing? lol.

            It’s ok to shuffle the deck, but then don’t blame the cards if you don’t get a good hand. The Rangers can’t have it both ways under these circumstances.

            It’s not really fair to evaluate any Ranger at this point. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t give effort, and we see who is and who isn’t on a game by game basis.

      • ” I one million percent disagree ” But we’re here, it’s almost November and that’s how things are shaping up to be under Quinn. Which brings me to my next point, Hayes isn’t some sort of trade chip to JG and Quinn. These moves makes perfect sense once you accept how JG doesn’t plan to trade him.

        • At this point, I don’t know if Zib is safe. But my gut tells me he is, you know why? First, he’s better than Hayes, and second, he’s righty, something the Rangers desperately need more of.

          One of us will be telling the other “I told you so” at some point, lol. I will be gentle, lol.

    • JG def has some explaining to do and the fact that only Gordie Clarke is allowed to make the picks is criminal…Who’s the F’n GM here?

      • Well, that’s another issue. I don’t believe that Gordie should have carte blanche when it comes to the draft. JG is in charge and he should have last say. And if he agrees with Gordie all the time, then JG is not doing his job.

    • Come on Tony, everyone knows the best place to develop centers is in any position other than center.

      Chytil is playing wing because the guy who taps people on the shoulder to go over the boards to get ice time, is being radioed by AV through Ruff not to send him over the boards for ice time. #vision.

      • LOL John.

        I mean I sat at the game last night and freaking Spooner is getting PP time over Chytil. I thought I was having an AV hallucination and saw Desharnais out there, lol.

        Don’t get me wrong, I love this coach, but come on, it’s October, now is the time to see what you have in these kids, because a lot of these vets will be gone soon.

        I found it interesting that Hayes and Zuc had their respective best games of the year, within the same game. I wonder if the coach had a “chat” with the 2 of them.

        • Have you considered that the coach is utilizing others so he can get Chytil a bigger picture view? That maybe, because some of those vets, who may not be there to practice with or watch later, means now is the time to get him that information to add to his play when his own time comes? It is not always just throw him out there and see if he can swim. Maybe, just maybe, there is a plan?

          • Then put in in the pressbox for a game or so and let him watch. How is he able to watch on the ice? And if he is, then he deserves to be in the press box.

            I don’t know if there’s a plan. You don’t know if there’s a plan. No one knows. I will tell yo this time next year if there was a plan, because that’s how long it’s going to take to find out.

            I can say that we “hope” that there’s a plan, lol. That we can all agree on.

        • Chytil didn’t do anything with his couple of games on the top PP. I’m assuming he didn’t impress the coaches enough at practices. Sorry bro but this isn’t therapy or little league time, Chytil has to earn it. He’s in a great position to earn some big minutes during the 5v5 and PP2.

          They were never going to give him one of the top 6 role center roles.

          • 2 games on the PP and that a career makes?

            Giroux started out on the 4th line. I think it worked out, no?

            The only evaluation available is effort. Guys in and out of the line up, different lines, different D pairings, etc., so it’s tough to say who should earn what minutes right now?

            At some point the dust will settle and there will be regular line ups and player deployments. THEN, you can start to see who has the goods.

    • Agree..Chytil should play until his loins are medium-rare…..This could be my only gripe and I had promised not to complain for at least two years….Play the kids…Period..

      • This, from a person in the know, and who has defended the Ranger org so far.

        It makes zero sense not to see if the kids are going to sink or swim. If they’re overwhelmed then there’s still time to send them to Hartford to come back later in the year.

        Only DeAngelo needs to clear waivers to be sent down.

    • he is a gifted passer, almost inspired. Playing him with two non shooters, though, makes no sense to me

    • well said richter. gorton roster decisions confuse me. they need to make up their minds:

      is this a Rebuilding year or a chase for 7th seed year?

      which is why imo to do this right they need to totally clear out all the vets. too many are in for the 7th seed.

      McQuaid? claesson? while tony d is on the chase bridge ? gorton has lost me.

  • We seem to have a glut of young centers that will only be addressed at the trade deadline. Until then, Chytil should play with top 9 skaters to see if his tools are really top nine material. The problem I see is the following; Krieder, Buch, Zucc should all be top 6 wingers. That leaves 3 spots. I still do not think Fast belongs there, or Vesey. That would leave Spooner, Chytil and who? We just are not deep enough with scoring wingers at this point to NOT TRY Chytil at wing.

    This is why we need a great draft and some FA signings to get us a scoring winger for the future.

  • Maybe (I hope) it’s time for the Rangers to talk to Toronto about Nylander. Toronto also has a glut of natural centers and by next year they’ll be paying 3 players (Tavares, Matthews and Marner) a combined $30m+. If they believe they can win now, perhaps there’s a deal to be made that includes Zucc++ … the ++ not being any of our top prospects under the age of 23/24 or a 1st rounder … perhaps.

      • Nah he’ll trade Hayes for just a 1st.

        JG will have to use some guys who are on contract. Btw I rather see him trade for Panarin. They’re going to be looking for established player’s who are in their mid 20’s.

        At the same time I’m not saying that I wouldn’t do a Skjei for Nylander deal. We win 10/10. Where’s Lou?

        • it would likely take Def and or D prospects to get Nylander Toronto has enough forwards Zuc or Hayes doen t help them.

      • I wold love Nylander, for sure, but here’s the thing, who do you give big money to? Nylander or Panarin? I say Panarin, without doubt, a much more known commodity who can carry the load. Nylander would not have his Leafs’ studs playing with him here.

        Sound familiar? Names without Stamkos and Kucherov?

        • How about both … both players are bona fide Top 3 guys, well Panarin for SURE. Nylander might cost a few $s more (maybe $7.5m if you tie him up right now), but we can move a center and/or winger making over $4m … same goes for Panarin, even though he’ll be looking for for something north of $8.5m at least. In 2 years you can subtract $8.5m for Hank, that will more than cover at least one of those two guys — plus some of the dead weight we’re carrying will come off the books by then.

          If you’re going to spend the $$$s, these are two guys to do it on.

          • The Rangers, if they are going to do what I think that they’re going to do next offseason, will have to clear $20M in cap space. That means Hayes, Zuc, Names, Spooner, and possibly Smith, all gone, with Staal getting bought out.

            The $20M is for 2 players, Panarin and a D man (Karlsson or Trouba). $20M if it’s Karlsson, around $18M if it’s Trouba. I don’t think Nylander fits under my assumed scenario.

            And I would much rather have Panarin than Nylander because Nylander has not proven to be a guy that can carry the load, he’s been a beneficiary of his teammates. I’m not saying that he’s not good, because he is, very good, but Panarin can create on his own. He’s the safer bet.

  • I have no problem with Chytil getting some time at wing better than 4th line 7 mins per game that we saw last week. Zuc and Hayes played their best games with the kid on the line. I think the kid is doing ok with some like he could have several more points.

      • KHL is equal to the so he is fine over there. Next year or at the end of the KHL season he needs to come over.

      • Doesn’t work that way, the player has to buy himself out and I doubt he has the funds to do it.

    • I was hoping that K would light up the lamp more often, but KHL is not the AHL so hopefully Krakatoa will continue to improve as the season goes along.

  • “Young players often shift from center to wing when they first get to the NHL, as it is eases the transition significantly”, and if this gets the kid going, so be it. I have no problem having the kid play wing, and then when he is ready switch him to the center position.

    This kid is a part of the future, and getting him the playing time, and confidence to play at this level means he will start as a wing, fine, start him as a wing. People fail to remember that Hayes came along as a wing, and transitioned to center, on the fly mind you. Why should this kid be treated any differently?

    Until this coach figures out who skates who whom, and which d pair will be teamed together, there will be a learning curve. How many were ready to give AV all the time necessary to get his team figured out, while having a much better cast of characters? Let’s give this coach the same time that AV was given before saying he is a failure………….

    • Here’s my problem bro. The Rangers knew the players they were going into the season with. How is getting Chytil minutes and now shifting him to wing part of the “plan?”

      I wold bet my life that this was not the plan going in to the season. Gorton has caused an overload in the center and defense positions, so now young players are not getting the proper minutes at their proper positions.

      It’s early but, IMO, the priority is players like Chytil, Howden, Andersson, etc., and then everyone else.

  • This seems more about winning faceoffs than anything else. Quinn is obviously old school even with his analytical side. So if you can’t win a faceoff, you can’t play center. If you noticed, he already had Zucc taking all of Chytil’s faceoffs in the 2nd game of the season. Which is probably also why you didn’t see Chytil on the ice as a center at the end of games. He’s been pretty responsible defensively otherwise. And this is certainly nothing to freak out about. He’s 19. He’ll learn.

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