When the Rangers sent center Filip Chytil to the AHL to start the season, it was viewed as a surprising development for a kid who had a halfway decent rookie season last year. Chytil was penciled in as the 2C, but with a poor camp and preseason, Chytil was sent down to work on his game and confidence. Through three games with the Hartford Wolf Pack, Chytil has put up 1-3-4 and has shown himself to be a man amongst boys so far.
Meanwhile in the NHL, Ryan Strome is just not cutting it as the 2C on a consistent basis. He had a great pass for Kaapo Kakko’s first goal on Saturday, but we are talking about consistently being able to keep up with Kakko and Chris Kreider, and it’s clear he hasn’t been able to through three games. Sure it’s only three games and there’s plenty of time for him to turn it around. However his track record isn’t with him, and he’s been the prime candidate for a regression year after shooting 20% with the Rangers last season.
All the attention is on Lias Andersson and his ice time, and while that is certainly with good reason, Lias isn’t the 2C of the future. He just happens to be playing better than both Strome and Brett Howden, so at the NHL level that’s why he gets the attention, at least through three games. But it doesn’t matter who gets there now, since whomever is the 2C is just keeping the spot warm for Chytil.
Which brings us back to that “unexpected” camp decision. Chytil is getting top line minutes in the AHL right now, something he wouldn’t be getting in the NHL. At least not yet. Not with three games in two weeks. For all intents and purposes, the past two weeks have been extended training camp and preseason, except with a salary cap to navigate.
The general consensus has been that Chytil will be called up before the end of the calendar year. Given his start, Strome’s start, and the relative reluctance of David Quinn to try Lias or Howden in the 2C role, it looks like Quinn is just biding his time until Chytil is ready for another shot at the 2C role. There is a plan. Whether or not the end justifies the means, well that’s where all the debate is.