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.
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
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-
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-
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
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-
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.