The kids will get their shot next year

After a subpar offseason in which the Rangers appeared to focus more on the expansion draft than anything else, the roster plans are starting to become clearer. Even if the Rangers find a trade partner for Ryan Strome, they will return largely the same roster as last season. The roster holes heading into the offseason are still there. However there are roster spots that appear to be open for the taking by some NY Rangers youth.

Center Depth

Heading into the offseason, 2C was a major need. The Rangers were not committed to Strome long term. They were also unsure if FIlip Chytil would be able to handle the 2C role. With no significant moves to address this issue, it looks like the 2C role is Chytil’s to lose. This, of course, assumes the Rangers part ways with Strome.

The numbers suggest that Chytil will be able to handle the role. This holds especially true if he’s with Artemi Panarin. It also looks like Kaapo Kakko will at least get the first look as the 2RW. He had a strong three game playoffs, and it looks like he will be fine in that role.

As for 3C and 4C, both spots appear to be a full blown competition. Brett Howden, Morgan Barron, Patrick Khodorenko, and Kevin Rooney appear to be the front runners for these roles. Without Strome or any additional moves, the 3C role looks like it will be Howden’s, but don’t sleep on Barron or Khodorenko. Khodorenko hasn’t been getting the hype that Barron has, but he could surprise folks.

Defense Depth

The guys we know will be there are Tony DeAngelo, Jacob Trouba, Adam Fox, and Ryan Lindgren. As of now, Anthony Bittetto, Brendan Smith, and Jack Johnson appear to be filling out the bottom part of the roster.

There’s a lot of offseason left, but the Rangers appear, at least on paper, to be looking at K’Andre Miller and Tarmo Reunanen to make a serious run at the NHL level this year. David Quinn has said that Jack Johnson will sit if the kids outperform him. That remains to be seen, but it looks like those two have the “inside track” of the kids on the blue line.

But don’t sleep on Yegor Rykov, who is playing very well in the KHL after a rough year of injuries last season. A fully confident Rykov could make a run as well. Libor Hajek’s name is in there as well, but he appears to be falling down the depth chart fast.

The Bottom Six

In addition to the center mentioned above, Vitali Kravtsov, Justin Richards, and Austin Rueschhoff  are in the mix when training camp rolls around. There are going to be others that surprise as well.

Youth appears to be the name of the game for the NY Rangers next season. Whether or not that was the plan from the start, we don’t know. The flat cap likely had an impact here, but perhaps this is a positive. The Rangers have some backup plans, but it looks like, at least from my optimistic outlook, the kids are going to get their chance

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  • I am not buying the lack of any moves for a 2C, saying that the Rangers are definitely going with Strome or Chytil in that spot. I still believe that the Rangers are biding their time on the trade front.

    Do I think that Chytil is a 2C? Yes, I do. The issue is do the RANGERS view Chytil as a 2C? I am not convinced that the Rangers think that Chytil is a center, period, and may play him on the wing, if a 2C is traded for.

    And Howden, should not be considered for center at all, on any line. He’s horrible and in no way can he handle center responsibilities. If he has to be here at all, then put him on 4th line wing.

    • I think it is clear that the first choice of the Rangers is to replace Strome with a different center who is not currently in the organization. So far, it has not happened and of course, the longer it goes the less likely they are to realize their dream. However, if and when the Rangers get Strome under contract, the possibility of a trade will remain on the table.

      Like you, I do not see the 2C position as Chityl’s to lose. If Strome stays, I think Strome is the default 2C – but Chityl may have the opportunity to win the position – or even 2RW. Of course, if we get a new center, all will depend on who that new center is.

      • “I think it is clear that the first choice of the Rangers is to replace Strome with a different center who is not currently in the organization.”

        Yep! It’s just that some fans need to chill on this “we need a 2c”. No team is willing to give up their top 6 center just because NYR come calling. RNH might be the more underrated 200 ft center to be had but imo he doesn’t want to come play in the East coast so he is out. There isn’t really anybody to be had as a 2c..

        I can promise you that Chytil will not be tried as a winger. Those days of trying him there are dead (even though I think he is much more of winger than center). There is no way even with a trade to Buch that he would make his way over to the flank in the top 6.

      • Agree on all Raymond.

        The Rangers are shopping for a 2C and if they do not get one then Strome gets a one year, $5Mish deal to be the guy.

        Rangers tried to trade Strome before they qualified him.

    • “He’s horrible and in no way can he handle center responsibilities.”

      Howden’s awareness in the dz is probably superior to Chytil’s 200 ft game at this point.
      Once you go down that rabbit hole, be prepared for it to boomerang back. At least he can cover a passing lane from the slots unlike Chytil.

      • Howden is a horrible NHL player, and, for some reason, everyone knows it except for the Rangers.

        Them signing Jack Johnson and stating that he brings good things to the team kinda shows you that they do not always evaluate players very well. Howden is another example.

    • In years past, the Rangers would always fill out depth spots with UFA signings or trades. All while the lesser revenue teams would stand pat and fill spots from within. I used to think the way the NYR did it was the way but look at TBL, COL, and even CAR now. I’m glad Gorton isn’t giving away playing time to stop gap free agents.
      The Rangers aren’t competing this season so why sign a $1.5 mil 4th line forward? It’s a waste of money and playing time. Let one of the draft picks work their way into a full time role. Don’t forget Lafrenierre. He should be ready to at least compete for a spot 3rd line wing.

  • I’ve heard this, and said this myself, many times: “Any player can, and should, be traded IF THE PRICE IS RIGHT!”. So, that means that nothing is set in stone, and we won’t know until the team takes the ice for the first time next season (whenever that may be) what the line up will be. What we do know is that for the first time in years the Rangers are loaded with young, home grown, talent to complement their veterans. It may be a roller coaster ride, but it’s going to be interesting!

  • “The numbers suggest that Chytil will be able to handle the role.”

    GP G A P +/-
    144 26 23 49 -34

    GP G A P +/-
    136 15 27 42 -27

    Neither have the stat lines to be a elite 3c in the NHL.

    • See, here is the thing. Everybody wanted the Rangers to go in a different direction. To stop buying aging veterans and go with a youth movement. When they do the right thing, a lot of the same people who wanted youth then complain that the kids are no good. So when you go the youth route, it is extremely important to allow said youth to have the time to develop. You are not doing that. Patience and reality have to be the mantra at this point in the rebuild. You, nor anyone else, has no idea how these kids will perform this year. It is possible the next step is this season. As for reality, stocking an organization with youth, you must know that some will never make the jump. How about, let the professionals do their job, and sit back and relax and see how this plays out.

    • The flaw in your stats’ comparison is that Chytil’s stats are tied to…


      When playing with real, NHL players with top 6 ability, Chytil’s stats go way up above his average.

    • So basically you don’t think either player can improve over the summer, especially players as long in the tooth like Chytil or Howden. Right.

  • I think the idea of pencilling in kids for lofty positions was dumb when it led to the collapse in 2017 and it remains dumb today. You plan to start two of Johnson, Smith, Betitto. You plan on Strome as the 2C. You keep a very open mind on 2RW, not handing it to Kakko. You plan on Rooney not Barron.

    Then you give the kids a fair shot to displace veterans. You can even root for them, in fact we probably should. But we must evaluate fairly.

    Playing defense is hard and it takes a long time to learn everything. Miller and Robertson are talented, but likely not ready, at least at season start. By the same token, Hajek has not been ready either — but it is way too soon to write him off. IMO, the nine best defensemen in camp will be Trouba, Lindgren, Fox, DeAngelo, Johnson, Betitto, Smith, Hajek, Raddysh. Not Miller, not Reuanen, not Robertson, not Rykov. It may be that these kids will surpass a number of the nine in the near future, but it hasn’t happened yet (and the historical odds say that one or two never will).

    Note: Given that age factor, I would hope that the idea that Betitto is more useful than Smith and/or Johnson is seriously considered by Quinn.

  • Unless JD & entire staff have completely lost their minds, they obviously see something in JJ to take a chance. Hopefully Rykov or Hajek work out this year. Hajek looked great for 6 games in late 2018/2019 before breaking leg. Not sure what happened. K Miller looks great physically but I have not been impressed when watching him (despite trying to see “potential). I am sure that it is due to being very young and still not having played a lot of high level hockey. Remain positive on him but suspect he will not be on the big club to start season.

  • I think the Rangers will be a better team if we can sign Strome to a reasonable contract. Him and the Breadman clicked and had good chemistry. You could say that Panarin helped Strome get 59 points, which is definitely true, but don’t forget it means something that Pararin had a career year playing along side Strome also. Chytil has the skill, but there is a lot of assumption that he will be as good as Strome was as our number 2 center. He may have more raw potential skill-wise then Strome, but he has been so far a big soft player who seems to disappear at times. Physical opposing players can intimidate and neutralize him. On the other hand, he may break out this year and really excel as he matures. Right now I feel more confident with Strome who is more experienced, grittier (which is needed on that line), and has the right proven chemistry with Panarin. I’m not sold on an unproven Crytil filling in that important spot as of yet. If Strome wants way to much, then it is wise to explore other options, but if we can sign him, I’m all for it.

  • I don’t see them replacing anyone or trading anyone…this season.

    If you look at the cap space next season and buyouts coming off the books , we have enough cap space to sign those rfas. And there will be some of them that deserve a good raise. The way I see it we have about 2-3 million over 1 year to offer anyone as ufa and the only piece I would be willing to part with is Kreider. Cause we all know how New York treats their captains.

    If a trade is made Smith and Kreider are a part of it. Kreider is also eating up 2m on the bonus cushion

  • I can see Miller, and Barron making the big show this season. They may not start that way, but after a small amount of time, Miller will leave the AHL in his rear view mirror, while Barron takes over the 3C from the beginning. This will make for a fun season…………………

  • I am of the opinion that re-signing Strome to a one or two year deal is likely barring a big trade, which I just don’t see happening. I think Chytil might be the 2C of the future, but he might not quite be there yet. Being a NHL center is a really tough position. I think he will get to be one eventually. This year will be a big year in his development.

    Same thing for Kakko on the wing, though it will only be his 2nd year so he is not as far along. He might get a shot at playing on Panarin’s line but I would not be horrified if he has growing pains. Kravstov might get a shot at the big club too. He might be ready for that, but again, he is a young player who is still developing and needs to bulk up more.

    I do not expect either Miller or Robertson to make the big club on defense yet. Miller is an athletic talent but he needs a lot more development in the AHL, probably more so than some defensemen because he started out as a forward. Robertson probably needs another year, though he could be a late year call up. So yeah, we are probably going to see a lot more of JJ than we’d like! Hajek might be a chance again. Even though he hasn’t been good, I think that I’d rather see him on a bottom pairing than JJ.

  • I’m all for the youth movement, but are we going to waste the best years of a Panarin and Zibs? It looks like we will….. JD is adamant about building a long term foundation, but at the expense of wasting some of our best players years. Again I’m all for the youth movement and we have to see what we have in these kids.

  • The entire NHL is waiting to see how the Lightning are going to address their HUGE cap problem. Once a path for the Champs becomes clear, then you will see a burst of trades and signings. Don’t misinterpret the Rangers lack of activity as a sign that they are done this off-season.

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