NY Rangers Midseason Grades: The Bottom Six Forwards

The bottom six has rotated a lot, hasn't it?

Continuing with our midseason grades (top-six, defense), let’s take a look at the revolving door that is the bottom-six forwards. For the most part, the bottom six has consisted of Filip Chytil, Brett Howden, Brendan Smith, Brendan Lemieux, Greg McKegg, and Micheal Haley.

Filip Chytil

Chytil was sent down to start the season, which was a relative disappointment for everyone. But upon his recall, Chytil has been solid, if a little inconsistent. That’s expected for a second year pro on a bad team with rotating linemates. His 10 goals is certainly nice, and he has shown flashes of ability to take over a game. He’s brought stability to the third line, which is the main positive. Grade: B

Brett Howden

Where to begin with Howden? He’s a tough one to grade because he’s been atrocious away from the puck, and his scoring has been bad this year as well (5-6-11 in a full season). The move to wing has stabilized him a bit, as it requires lesser defensive responsibility, but he’s still prone to wild fluctuations of good and bad. He still needs work. Grade: C-

Brendan Smith

The defenseman who is moonlighting as a forward, Smith has done all he can do at the position. He’s not going to score much, and he’s not going to be a stellar fourth line winger either. He’s not doing much from a CF% or xGF%, so he’s basically a lineup filler at this point. In terms of expectations, he’s meeting them, sort of. Grade: C-

Brendan Lemieux

Lemieux’s transition from pest to legitimate net front presence is something to keep an eye on. Before his injury, he had a line of 5-8-13 in 35 games and his ice time was starting to increase. He was getting PP2 time in front and was clicking with Chytil and Howden. He’s been better than advertised so far this season, and his current production trail has him as a solid third liner. Grade: B

Greg McKegg

McKegg has dressed for 29 games this season, mostly as a fourth liner. He has good wheels, and does a good job in his own zone. He’s an offensive black hole, or at least it appears that way since he’s usually with Smith, Haley, or Steven Fogarty. I think he’d produce more if given better linemates, but that’s just a hunch. Grade: B-

Micheal Haley

I still don’t know why the Rangers insisted on keeping him around. He’s been objectively bad. He’s not a “deterrent” on the ice. The guy is doing his job, which I get, but this isn’t the right spot for him. Player Grade: D+. Management Grade: F

Steven Fogarty / Lias Andersson

Incomplete – haven’t and won’t play enough games with the big club.

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  • Funny that McKegg gets a B- since “He’s an offensive black hole, or at least it appears that way since he’s usually with Smith, Haley, or Steven Fogarty” … well couldn’t we have said the same thing about Lias instead of piling on him every chance we got?

    Personally I don’t think McKegg has offered us much. He may not be a detriment defensively but he’s given us nothing offensively. Given his age and his prior performance, I expected more. C-

    • What you do want from a fourth liner is to not have a lot of scoring by the other team so the game is decided when your best players are on the ice. McKegg has only been on the ice for 10 ES opposing goals, one goal for every 25 minutes of ice time or 2.4G/60. [Fogarty has same rate so far but sample size is absurdly small.]. Lias was on the ice for eleven ES goals, more than one goal every twelve minutes or 5G/60. In a shade over two games actual ice time at even strength, Lias was outscored 11-2. Awesomely awful, bad compared to Haley, should not be an incomplete.

      Fun fact: Best Ranger defensively at ES is Marc Staal, with only 13 goals given up, a rate of about 2G/60 yielded. Try wrapping your head around the fact that Lias and Marc have been on the ice for roughly the same number of even strength goals against despite the fact that Marc has had three times as much ice time.

  • DQ is a top line coach, playing the top 2 lines 65% of the time. This is good as our top 2 lines are pretty good, but bad because he does not have the flexibility to play the bottom 2 lines more. The top lines could use more of a break in the 3rd period, if we only had a 3rd line that could hold its own for 50 seconds, maybe even generate PP, but alas we do not.

    I really was hopeful that a Chytil/Howden/Lemieux line would do more than they do. Sorry but they have not met expectations.

    • I think the line of Chytil/Howden/Lemieux has potential but needs more time. Hope to see it when Lemieux returns.

  • Three years no playoffs….Next year I would think JD. would expect the team to make the playoffs or else… Bottom six need a tweak…..Defense needs another banger that can hold his position…….Hope Lindgren is okay……Took a pummeling

    ..and please enough of Staal goodness the lovefest for Staal has reached epic proportions….I know he is a great guy, but it pains me to see him keep up….Father time is definitely in the front seat with him.

  • Chytil I think deserves a B+ because for a 20 year-old second year pro he is starting to be a force. Relative to expectations, he has done quite well. That kid is your 2nd line center in the making.

    Brenden Lemieux might not be Mario or Claude, but the kid has guts, decent skills and enthusiasm. I’d give him a B+ too.

    I’d give the rest C grades, even Haley. It is not his fault that the Rangers have kept him around. He sucks, but he is doing the best he can.

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