Players

The Rangers are counting on Filip Chytil taking the next step

Before the Rangers drafted Vitali Kravtsov and Kaapo Kakko, Filip Chytil was the most skilled prospect in the system. The 21st overall pick in 2017 when he was just 17 years old, Chytil played very will in Hartford right after his draft year (11-20-21 in 46 games) before getting a 9 game call up at the end of the season.

Last season Chytil played in 75 games, putting up 11-12-23 while bouncing around the lineup. Chytil had a stint where he scored in five straight games and had a separate stint where he scored a pair of highlight reel goals. By the end of the season, Chytil was averaging 13 minutes a night at all strengths. He seemed more comfortable in his role, even if the points weren’t coming. The Blueshirts went 3-8 in that span, so it’s not like he was the only one struggling, either.

As currently constructed, Chytil is lining up as the 2C, playing as the pivot between likely Chris Kreider/Artemi Panarin and Vitali Kravtsov/Pavel Buchnevich/Kaapo Kakko. So he’s going to be playing with skilled players. The expectation to produce will be there, even if he will be turning just 20 years old in September.

The talent is there. If Chytil were born a week later, he would’ve been a top-ten pick in 2018 instead of a top-30 pick in 2017. It’s a matter of him taking the next step forward, something he already did in the latter half of last season. Playing consistently with the talent he will be lined up with could do wonders for him. It’s actually why I’m in favor of playing him with Panarin. The ability to learn on the fly is something the great talents have, and Chytil has that potential.

However the Rangers, for the second time in three seasons, are banking on a kid taking a role that is a big question mark. The difference is that the Rangers –despite the influx of elite talent this offseason– are not in a position to truly compete yet. Yes, they can surprise some teams and should be better, but they are still counting on prospect growth, something that isn’t guaranteed. Chytil is just one of many kids being put in this position.

The good news for Chytil is that he’s not going to be the focus. Panarin and Kakko will have the overwhelming share of attention. Kravtsov is likely #3 on this list. Adam Fox might actually be #4 on the list, so Chytil, while under the expectation of taking the next step in his sophomore season, isn’t really under the microscope. That likely plays into his favor, as it should be relatively stress free for him.

For Chytil, it’ll be about continuing to drive offense and learn on the fly with some more seasoned talent. The eventual goal is for him to be able to drive offense and possession on his own, and not be reliant upon or ride the coattails of a Panarin or a Kreider. This is a big year for Chytil. It’s not make-or-break, but his progression will really help drive the Rangers’ successes this year.

"The Rangers are counting on Filip Chytil taking the next step", 5 out of 5 based on 23 ratings.
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  1. If CK is here, then Chytil is a 2C with CK and Buch on his wings.

    If CK is not here, then Chytil may still be a 2C but a much weaker one, IMO. Having possession wingers like CK and Buch are a priority for Chytil’s development as a 2C, IMO.

    But Chytil’s skill is evident, no matter who is on his line. Whereas Lias’ skill is not evident, and that is the difference between the 2 young players.

    1. I would say they have two different skill sets, they are vastly different players and that’s OK — we may need both.

      1. The issue is that 7th overall picks were not originally picked to be 4th line checking centers.

    2. Good observation on the comparison between Chityl and Andersson. In the end, we do not yet know which of the two will be better. But, if Lias falls flat, he was just a drafting mistake. If Chityl falls flat, it will be a developmental mistake.

  2. Given Chytil’s struggles last season it is probably a long shot that he’s ready to be an effective 2C. He’s still a teenager learning to adapt to the game here. And he still needs to step up his battle level to make it at this level. My guess is tough love awaits from DQ and Strome is plan B, if necessary.

  3. I have to laugh, people forget the kid was only 19 last year, and still learning.

    First of all, the kid needs to develop physically, and that will come as he matures. Secondly he didn’t play with the greatest players on his line, so the mediocre results. Being bounced around from line, to line, and different roles as well, what can we expect from the kid?

    This coming season he will be given a chance to play center, not wing, and being with a higher caliber of talent, this will improve his game tremendously. With the signing of Panarian, and the drafting of Kakko, and Kravs joining the line up, we are a much more skilled team. These players will all help with the development of Chytil, assuming DQ leaves him with some steady players, instead of pulling the garbage AV did, by mixing the lines up from shift, to shift. Phil will develop some self confidence, knowledge that will be instilled by some vets, and a comfort level. Bottom line, the kid will be OK, he has all the tools to be a very, very good player. Give him time folks!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Sorry, I don’t see it. He is young, yes, he’s also soft and completely irresponsible with his passes and his defensive zone play. His ceiling in my opinion is Nick Zherdev. He’s more valuable as a trade chip.

      1. He has the frame, but he needs to grow into it … plus the adjustment of playing better in the defensive zone — and with both the confidence to play “hard” as opposed to “soft” will come. I don’t think he’s naturally “soft”.

    2. I’d like to see him on a line centering Kreider and Kravstov. Kreider is a quintessential NHL power forward, while Kravstov is really sneaky good. There are times when he dominates play without ever taking a shot, just holding the puck, passing to a shooter, grabbing the rebound, and repeating the sequence. He’s one of those guys who seems to be able to predict where the puck is going to go, not one who’s always trying to find it.

  4. Good morning,

    I think Brett Howden is our best young center. I really think he is going to be a 2c in this league. He has the size and skill to succeed. He put up huge offensive numbers in junior and had almost the exact stats at Chytil last year. These two together will be good with Kakko maybe on a line. All three of them over 6ft and 200lb and skilled. As deep as we are on the wings I still think Chytil should play on the wing and let his offensive creativity flow there. This season I think Zib, Buch and CK should stay together. They have shown good chemistry for two seasons in a row. If they all stay healthy then I think they have a big year. Chytil is going to be good and I think with less pressure to be the guy this year he takes a step forward and is more consistent. 22 goals and 18 assists is my prediction.

  5. Every team relies on their youth taking a step forward, nothing strange about that. In the case of the Rangers they’ll need 3 or 4 of them to do that if they truly want to compete — we have time though and the base talent to do so. Exciting times.

    1. bump.

      there were times when he showed crazy skills, hands and an ability to like, glide on the ice surface… I hope he progresses!!!!

      LGR!!!

      1. He needs to be more aggressive offensively, a bit more Jagr and a little less Jody Hull. I think he’s tentative, in part because he’s trying to learn the defensive part of the game — that and the body needs more development —- with both comes the confidence to “go for it”.

        1. spot on using Jagr, that’s were my “glide” description came from, I hope when his body gets strong he keeps players off the puck as well as 68

          I have to say it’s been freking awesome these past months reading these types of Rangers’ problems eh!!!!

          DROP THE PUCK!

          1. Yes Pas, the types of ‘problems’ the Rangers have now, aside from the CAP Crunch, are the types of problems we have been hoping for them to have!

        2. Jagr was a tank at 16, Chytil hasn’t filled out.

          Tough to do what Jagr did without being a tank.

  6. It’s going to be an interesting year for Chytil who obviously is very talented but did not succeed last year – not surprising given his age and the transition to NHL hockey. He tried to make individual plays last year which, when successful, was very entertaining, but overall he struggled. Did seem better at center at the end of the season but it is asking a lot for Chytil to be a successful 2C at 19 years old. He seemed to shy a way from the increased physicality of the NHL. I suspect he will be asked to work on his strength training in the off season. Ultimately he will be a pretty big strong guy. Hopefully he will be inspired by Kappo to play a more straight ahead game as he did seem to be more of a “dipsy do” type last season.

  7. In great organizations, players like Chityl become stars. I am not yet convinced that Quinn et al are up to the task, but they may be.

    Let’s not deny reality. While he showed flashes, Chityl was awful last year. Scoring 5 v 5, his number paled in comparison to new Rangers Panarin and McKegg. And he certainly had better offensive opportunities than McKegg. Chityl did not belong in the NHL last year, period, full stop.

    I hope that management develops him correctly. He needs to be more than a player who shows up for occasional shifts. I don’t know what the prescription for success is, but I do believe that the standard BSB remedy (he just needs more confidence) is bogus. It may be that 2C is so stimulating that he is able to take the next step. Then again, being handed such a lofty position without earning it may make him think half-hearted measures are good enough. It may be that playing ten minutes a game is ideal as he can focus on EVERY shift. It may be that some time in the AHL is called for. And it may be that trying him in several roles is the best way to find out what works.

    The Rangers have a host of players who have not yet earned the right to call themselves NHL players — Kakko, Kravtsov, Chityl, Andersson, Howden (maybe), Hajek, Fox, Rykov, Lindgren. [Hopefully, in Kakko’s case, my statement is a technicality.] The organization needs to develop each player according to his own needs. We should not have travesties like last year when Lias Andersson was playing in the wrong league because the Rangers had too few bodies in NY. You hand out the starting jobs to McKegg and Nieves and hopefully a few more players at that level and see if Chityl and Kravtsov can take the jobs away (which they will do if and when they realize their talent).

    IF all or most of the kids arrive this year, the Rangers can have a good team — but the idea of the rebuild is to develop them properly without a schedule and let the chips fall where they may.

    1. Being tried as 2C does not mean that he is “being handed” the position. He is easily removed from the position from game to game, even shift to shift. I see no downside to giving the kids shots to sink or swim if they seem ready to take the next step. I have faith in the coaching staff that they will slot players in only when they believe they might be ready to grow into the role.

      1. “I have faith in the coaching staff that they will slot players in only when they believe they might be ready to grow into the role.”

        Whatever justifies that faith? Lias Andersson played over 40 games last year in a league he belonged nowhere near. And this is professional hockey. You don’t play a six year old Wayne Gretzky just because he will grow into the role. Players can learn to play hockey at different levels. And forcing real hockey players to play alongside kids playing at playing hockey is degrading.

        Here is the unvarnished truth. For the third year in a row (unless there are some late signings), the Rangers are too thin up front. Kids will get starting jobs because there are simply not enough real forwards to play the position. An organization that slots players correctly does not have that problem.

        1. The Rangers had a big problem regarding their Hartford team. Not enough talented players and a lousy coaching situation. Andersson’s first stint was lousy while his second was better. If he makes the team out of camp this coming season it will more likely be because of improved play instead of a need for a body.

          Yes, I have faith in the coaching staff in slotting players where they belong, especially now that they are starting to have more to work with.

    2. Ray – you make a good point that playing all the prospects instead of veterans is not necessarily the best move from a development standpoint, nor from a production standpoint. Many on the board call for playing all the prospects and conclude that if we did so we would compete next season. That is not the case – what team loaded with teenagers and near teenagers ever competed for the cup. And looking at Lias and Chytil’s struggles last year one has to wonder if they would have been better served playing top line minutes in Hartford.

      However – given the all of a sudden cap crunch there really is no good alternative to playing some of the prospects on entry level contracts. We are up against the cap as is and they generally make under a million per. I suspect at least one more year of development of the prospects with all that entails awaits before we are true playoff contenders.

      1. I think cheap players can be had. Not great players for sure, but guys who are a lot better than Lettieri or last year’s Andersson. One good signing was Gregg McKegg, who played 40+ games for Carolina and was used regularly in the playoffs. He has a one way contract at $750K. A good deal for him as he gets his money either way, but costs the Rangers nothing capwise if he doesn’t make the team. I would imagine the Rangers could find several other players who would sign similar contracts. Geez, Toronto signed Jason Spezza for $700k$; if he has nothing left, it’s only money and that the Rangers have. I don’t think I would go over $1.2M on anyone and would try to keep it under a million.

      1. I don’t necessarily disagree, but on my current depth chart, based on results and not potential, he is the #10 Ranger forward – behind Zib, Panarin, Kreider, Strome, Names, Kakko, Buch, Fast, Lemieux. And one or two of those nine ahead of him are likely to be traded.

        Now it is reasonable to hope that Chityl will not be the nightmare he was last year – and one might argue that Howden is already close to McKegg, but the Rangers simply need players at this level until some youngsters attain maturity. Maybe Kravtsov can play in the NHL from day one, but I really view him more as a mid-season call-up.

        My bottom line though is that if you are going into the season with nine NHL forwards and some kids, you should have about five guys like McKegg to be used as needed.

  8. I don’t think Chytil is mature enough for the center role. I think it makes more sense to keep Chytil’s game simple for now. Besides, we now have 5 centers competing for three spots. If Strome or Names can’t fill the 2C bill – get rid of both.

    1. Chytil is a center. He may not be mature enough to play significant minutes in the NHL but he looked better at center last season than at wing where he basically played center on the wing.

      1. Orland –
        You are right. He did play center regardless. And actually a Panarin/Chytil/Kakko would be fun to watch. Quinn must be grinning ear to ear.

  9. Chytl was just 19 last year, he has the frame to grow, we just got a peak of what he can be. he will have more talent around him, i hoping a big year for not just him but for the team. Cannot wait. LGR

  10. one thing he, chytil, has going for him is that he’s a big dude already and has shown elements of durability. they are clearly banking on him considering the center depth chart right now. and I think its a good bet and a necessary one.

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