The Rangers are entering this season with very few jobs secured, something that hasn’t happened in quite some time. We have an idea of who will make the roster, but figuring out the lines and pairs is something that is still up in the air. When it comes to the top six forwards, we again have an idea of who will slide into those roles, but you never really know how David Quinn will arrange his lines.
We do know that Mika Zibanejad will be the 1C. We do know that Artemi Panarin will be the 1RW. Two of the wingers in the top six will be Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich. After that, we have a competition between Filip Chytil, Ryan Strome, Kaapo Kakko, and Vitali Kravtsov for the remaining spots.
The smart money is on Kakko taking a top-six role, and also on Kravtsov lining up in a third line role. Chytil is penciled in as the 2C right now. Most fan projections have the top six looking something like this:
Now there are certainly questions about splitting up Zibanejad/Panarin, about how that second line is going to work without some veteran presence on the line. But for the most part, that’s what it will look like. Personally, I like the idea of keeping KZB together and then putting Panarin with Chytil and Kakko, but that’s just me.
But if Chytil doesn’t have that 2C role locked down, we could see Strome in that role, knocking Chytil down with likely Kravtsov on the third line. Then again, Buchnevich may find himself out of the top-six as well, depending on his performance at camp, along with others.
It’s a fun situation for us fans, something we haven’t really had since the post-Jagr days. The lineup is going to be fluid throughout most of camp and probably into November, and that’s a good thing. There is so much talent up front, we know the Rangers are going to be fun to watch this season.