Analysis

On the Rangers center quandary

As the Rangers 2020-21 season progressed, I knew I wanted to complete a top-level analysis for centers Mika Zibanejad, Ryan Strome, and Filip Chytil. With the 2021 draft less than two months away, plenty of scenarios will be examined and proposed as to how the Rangers should handle their top three centers. While I think there are certain statistics that favor one player over another of the three, I think the best way to level set is to simply state that the Rangers have three decent to good NHL players at their disposal.

Part of the reason why I don’t spend a lot of time dabbling in trade rumors or proposals is because we don’t know how the Rangers rank Zibanejad, Strome, and Chytil. In order to realistically target another NHL-caliber center (whether by trade or UFA), we must first know who they would prefer (or intend) to keep in a Rangers uniform. They may want all three. I do not envy the decision Chris Drury and his staff must eventually make. I believe this is a somewhat significant crossroads as to how this roster will be built.

Instead of going player by player, I want to split up this analysis of the Rangers centers into offense, defense, and overall impacts. We’re also going to stick with a year-over-year POV seeing as we’re trying to get a sense of where the players have been and where they might go. And while we’re “diving in” per say, this is also meant to be more of an overview rather than an innately detailed analysis. As much as I like to find time to do this, in the end I am very much tossing darts (just like most, or all, of us).

Offense

Right off the hop there are three takeaways here, one per player. For Mika, you can see that his expected and actual even strength offense GAR & xGAR has been hovering at a high level for years. This makes sense – while Mika may not completely dominate a game, he is rarely outplayed, seeing as he’s firmly a good NHL center.

Ryan Strome is also clearly a positive offensive player, but it’s the swing of the last couple of years that is more concerning rather than encouraging. For one, even if he’s “found his game” at the NHL level, given his age (to be 28 next year), this would likely indicate a peak in effectiveness. Furthermore, the gap between GAR and xGAR makes his regression risk higher.

Finally, Chytil showed more promise this year and his offensive GAR metrics support this. While it will be difficult for him to go even higher in these ratings, the fact that there’s a 22 year old playing effective hockey in the offensive zone, even in limited TOI, is reassuring.

The above graph will be unique to this section, but I like to look at the iXG/60 when discussing player decisions. I believe this is one of a few simple ways to look at if a player is consistently creating chances.

In the end, the themes are the same as the GAR/xGAR charts shown previously. Zibanejad has oscillated around that top ~30% line while Strome has come on strong as of late. Chytil has started strong so it’s, again, reassuring that he has many years before reaching his peak age range.

Defense

On defense is where the story of these three starts to get interesting. For Zibanejad, he has generally been an average or slightly below average defensive player in terms of GAR/xGAR at even strength. He had three strong years to start with the Rangers, but otherwise followed the team down the drain in the defensive zone. Overall, we can’t expect more than average in any given year for Mika going forward.

While Strome had one great year in his own zone, his case is a little more clear cut as he’s usually not an impact on defense in a good way. The gap between his GAR and xGAR is once again something to watch as he’s gotten a good string of on-ice SV% performances the last few years at evens.

With Chytil I am once again impressed. Tossing out his 9 game 2017-18 season and we once again have a very young NHL player holding his own in limited minutes. If Chytil can hover anywhere near that top ~30% mark defensively, he should be a fine NHL player, especially given his offensive trend thus far and the possible wingers that he may be playing with moving forward.

Overall

One item to note before the graphs: The overall numbers include other categories besides just blending the even strength offense and defense that we’ve looked at in the above. These include power play offense, short handed defense, and penalty take/draw.

There are undoubtedly players who have strong impacts on each of these sections, but the issue with breaking them out to look at individually sits with sample size. Year over year the impacts can swing wildly depending on TOI, and overall 80-85% of the typical NHL game is spent at even strength (and more so in the playoffs). There’s a reason why PP and PK specialists usually play limited TOI at even strength.

The story begins to tie together when we look at the overall GAR numbers for these three. Apart from his rookie season, Zibanejad simply hasn’t been a negative impact player regardless of the team. This is key to remember because he has established a level of play in the NHL and it is difficult to be that consistent.

Ryan Strome is a mixed bag with the overall figures. In the years where the puck is finding the net consistently, he jumps up, but when the puck luck isn’t on his side his impact is average at best. This makes sense given what we saw in his offense and defense split – where he’s consistently struggled defensively.

As with the previous two graphs, it certainly feels like young Chytil is knocking on the door of the Actually Good Forwards Club. Again, it’s in limited TOI, so no one should assume this will translate to higher TOI against higher competition, but he also will eventually deserve a larger NHL role.

Shifting gears, I wanted to quickly look at each players RAPM Net Expected Goal per 60 rating. RAPM does more to attempt to isolate a players impact separate to the team strength. This view gives us a bit of a different story than the GAR/xGAR charts above. Zibanejad has slowly generated (whether individually or being on-ice for) less scoring chances for and more against in the past few seasons according to the RAPM model. I do wonder if, like we’re all hoping out of Kreider, that his impacts will stabilize as he eventually moves down a teams lineup with age.

Meanwhile, Strome saw a revival back to his first few years while playing in the Rangers top six the last two seasons. It should be mentioned, again, that this was mostly his offensive impacts driving this. Chytil, after a slow start, turned positive the last two years – in his case it was his defensive impacts that continually improved year over year.

Projected Contracts & Conclusion

The below projected contracts are courtesy of Evolving Hockey (this assumes a $81.5M salary cap). A key note: the “Pred” is shorthand for predicted, however EH offers probability percentages for each possible scenario for contract years (aka 1 or up to 8). Subsequently, a players cap hit will change, and an example of this is if the Rnagers sign Chtyil to 6-year extension this offseason, it would likely cost them in the ballpark of ~$4.3 million per year. Subscribe to them for access to this tool and many others.

Of course each players potential cap hit cannot be ignored (even though, admittedly, I think deciding on which player gives you the best chance to win is the most important factor). Evolving Hockey’s model has Zibanejad and Strome cashing in on their years of offensive output with long-term UFA contracts. Chytil, comparatively, seems cheap given that we’re seeing solid impacts at lower TOI, but in the end that is a bridge deal during his RFA years.

With all the above evidence laid out, I don’t so much have an exact plan for you but rather a few go/no-go thoughts to share. I’ll start with the one I feel most strongly about, which is to keep Filip Chytil in New York for many years to come. While he may have difficulty breaking into that top ~30% forward range (aka we don’t know his ceiling), I feel firmly that he can be a fine to very good NHL forward (middle six), especially if he has talented wingers at his side. You could see his confidence growing this season, especially before his broken collarbone.

From there my conviction on what to do wanes, but I’ll lay it out like this. I think that Mika Zibanejad has established a higher level of NHL effectiveness than Ryan Strome. At the same time, I think that Strome has had two strong seasons that are different than his previous six in the league. While some may use that as a positive I see it as an outlier risk.

This does not mean I want to extend Zibanejad long-term. I do believe that the Brassard trade comparisons from years ago make a lot of sense. The reason that worked out so nicely for the Rangers is that they took a player who was perceived as effectively at the top of his game and swapped him for a young but established player with upside. That being said, if the Rangers can’t see a way forward without one of Zibanejad or Strome, I would choose Zibanejad and do everything in my power to keep the term to four or fewer years.

This is all easier said than done. If a good deal for the Rangers is on the table for Zibanejad or Strome, it should absolutely be considered. And, to wrap this up, a wild card option that not many will throw out in the Moneyball age of asset management. Let one of them walk after next season to their UFA dollars. If Ryan Strome plays a full season next year for the Rangers, I actually think this would be a wise move, especially given his lack of production away from a certain Russian winger.

In the end that was more than 1700 words to say that I don’t exactly know what the Rangers should do with Zibanejad and Strome. Seeing as in the real life I do sales, I’m rarely willing to make conclusive statements with grey situations – it comes with the territory. All I think I know is that Chytil is showing promise, Zibanejad has proven he is a top-half center in the NHL, and Strome can certainly generate offense despite his defensive issues. What the Rangers or you do with this analysis of their centers, well, that’s your call.

Show More
  • To me, these numbers show the following: Zibby is 1C material in the NHL; Strome is a good 2C, but shows some holes in his overall game.. He could be the missing piece on a team of young centers. Chytil, while not lighting the lamp enough, is emerging as a solid 3C.

    When it comes to salary, it is all about value. Do you get $9M value with Zibby? Well, he seems to come close, but that is a lot of money. For Strome, $7.8M is pretty steep for a 2C. Not sure we can afford him. What does this say about adding a player like JE?

    Chytil is fair value at $2.3M, but he isn’t going to make us that much better if he stays his course. Good value yes, Strong 3C on a playoff team? I think not.

    If Strome gets moved to a young team, he could solidify the center position, for say a Ottawa or Buffalo. Unclear who wants him at his potential salary though.

    • think you are selling chytil way short. zib really only came into his own around age 24/25. they have similar physical attributes other than handedness.

      • Chytil was chosen a year ahead of when he should have been drafted in the top 10 the next year. He should be on the laffy path.

        He should have a breakout year…should

  • I think the Rangers don’t do anything until all the protected and unprotected lists become available to the Kraken. The easiest route is to have the Krackheads select a center the Rangers like and do a prospect, draft pick swap.

  • Strome seemed to be a fave of Quinn. I would’ve much preferred seeing someone else on top PP unit. IMO, he’s in that pay range that kill your cap. You need to pay the high end players, but giving a guy like Strome anything in the 5-7m range is a mistake. For that money, you can do better. Chytil can stay at 3C with possibility that he could even end up as a useful winger. I don’t feel like he’s making anyone around him better. That’s just the eye test. He seems to have his moments going 1on1, but I rarely see him skating around with his head up.

  • Chytil should be moved to the 2C (even if his future is as a wing), trade Strome, resign Mika … go out and get a hardnosed 3C who can win faceoffs.

    • On that note: Philip Danault, 3 years, $16.5 million. Guy is having a hell of a defensive playoff so far for Montreal, just ask Matthews and Marner…his offense has dried up a bit this year so maybe the Rangers can lowball him.

      • Huge Pass…this guy rejected 5mm per for six years talk about cap killer, 5.5mm for a 3rd line center…who scores 30 points…

        • Danault was a 50+ points a year guy in 18-19, and was on pace for that production again in the 19-20 season until the pandemic shutdown, all on a low-scoring team. While doing this he was also one of the best defensive centers in hockey. He was on pace for 40 points this year, because he was primarily used as a third line center behind Suzuki and Kotkaniemi. Once the playoffs arrived, Danault has been a 1B type center for Montreal.

          He’s no JT Miller, that’s for sure. For one thing, he’s actually in the 2020-21 NHL playoffs. And for another, Danault is actually playing defense out there.

          Lastly the money I’m proposing is easily there for the Rangers, they have a ton of cap space for next year, particularly so if Strome is traded.

          • so, if he rejected 5mm a year for 6 years, does that mean he wants more money and longer years or because it is the Rangers he will take a shorter deal?

            If he is as valuable as you and he thinks…why would take less money?

            would you sign him for 6years at 5mm a year?

      • I should have added DRAFT a C … move up or down in the draft accordingly.

        My only issue is that $5.5M per for a do everything 3C is a bit stiff … but the cost to acquire is at least low (none).

        • If you’re moving Strome, the Rangers will need a center. Danault at $5.5 mil is $1 million more than Strome will make, so the money even sorta slots in.

          • I don’t think he’s going to sign for less than what Montreal purportedly offered him — both in term and money … so I really don’t see him as a viable option, but of course due diligence demands we look into it.

      • WE AGREE ON SOMETHING!!!!! He’s the guy I’d love to see them get.Would check a lot of boxes!

  • Whether it comes from the #3 or the #4 center, we MUST get someone who can win faceoffs. Preferably both!

  • Rob, this is such high quality work.
    Quantitative data tells such an impressive, unbiased story. Thanks for doing the research.

  • Zib waiving his NMC for a trade is dubious but possible. Having Zib play out his contract may be plausible especially if Drury wants to go full bore at Barkov but that’s risky. I don’t think the Rangers want to give Mika a 7 year deal at $8 million plus. Strome should not get a contract anywhere near $6 – 7 million or more. Chytil’s not going anywhere I think he leaps forward with Quinn out of the picture.

    Rob’s Brassard comparison rings true now with Zib eventually entering his age 28-29 season. That brings me back to Eichel who, provided his medicals pan out, is going to be a Ranger, IMO. The team’s medical staff has to be comfortable and if so Eichel will be a member of this team, barring only, a run at Barkov which I think is most preferable but again risky and improbable.

    • Brassard was a good soldier for us, but he was never more than a 55-60 point type guy, Mika has already proven that he’s a PPG+ guy … and better defensively (certainly on the PK). It may not be a case of comparing apples to oranges, but it’s at least a case of comparing an orange to a clementine.

  • I know it would be an unpopular opinion on this board but I would look to upgrade both #2 and #3 pivot spots on the roster which would mean saying goodbye to both Chytil and Strome… Strome & Chytil each in their own way demonstrated plenty of intriguing offensive skills (Strome in particular) but ask yourself would you trust him to take faceoff and cover defensively in our own zone in a tight playoff game and if the answer is NO NYR should seriously consider moving them this off-season… I will explain my thinking further – our team is very strong on the wings with both experienced players with NMC like Panarin and Kreider and younger players like Alexis, Kakko & Kravtsov who is capable of operating on both wings… With that in mind (and our soft defense) we don’t necessarily need to focus on shiny objects like Eichel or Kuznetsov whose value primarily lies in their offensive production… We need to find/trade/draft preferably defensive minded pass first pivots who could add some size and physicality to the position… Players like Adam Henrique, Sam Bennett & Brandon Sutter might not be sexy names but they are gettable and would certainly improve our defense and grit…

  • When I see articles like this with all your charts and graphs it always makes me laugh. You people today think human beings who play a sport, are some kind of a video game which you can figure every move. These are people like us with life’s problems. A player may have a fight with his wife, sister, mother, or boss. He’s on the ice with 4 other players and your analytics is rating him on their good or bad plays. For me analytics doesn’t taking these things into account and that’s why I put very little into them. My reason for saying this is to just make people see this as not the be all, cure all in sports.

  • We have a top 15 in the league 1C, but our 2C and 3C leave much to be desired. Our 2C gets tons of points, due to his linemate, while our 3C is finally filling out as a player.

    These 3 centers did not and will not allow us to be a playoff team. Drury and the world know this. Something has to be done and since many of our wingers are not going anywhere, we need to change up our middle centers.

    Not a trade prognosticator, so not sure who, but we need to improve the skill level and 200′ play of our middle centers. As mentioned here, someone who can win face-offs and someone who goes into the dirty areas.

  • If they plan to upgrade at center, then the only real question is who is going…Strome or Chytil? You can say, “move Chytil to the wing”,,,, fine..then what forward are you moving to get that center upgrade. Buch, Kakko, Kravtsov? That’s not a choice I want to make!
    And really, IMO, Zebanejad isn’t going anywhere. He’s proven, when hes right, hes a more than capable top center. If you get rid of him to upgrade the position..how is that really an upgrade? You want to keep him and add another top guy, so you REALLY have 2 top lines to throw out there.
    If they’re going big-game hunting(and I’m not so sure Drury is), the cost is going to be high. And if the upgrade is a centerman, then you tell me what team would look at Strome as a desireable piece, without throwing a bunch of top prospects and picks in the deal?
    If the target is someone like an Eichel, then its going to be a roster player, a top prospect…a second tier prospect and picks. Now, the cost of that prospect might come down due to Eichel’s medical uncertainty, so maybe, if they want him, then a guy like Kakko won’t have to be the top prospect in the deal. That’s when they offer a Chytil, and see if that moves the needle much. I REALLY am not for going after Eichel, but if they can get a top line center…its going to cost! And of the young roster players that would be considered…Chytil is the guy they can afford to part with, IMO.
    Only problem is, then someone like a Buch, would have to be included as the proven player in the deal…..plus 2nd tier prospects and picks.
    Its a VERY hard choice for Drury, but if he really wants a “culture change,” then he just might be willing to make a statement move and trade a Buch just to shake up the lockeroom; and put the onus on a Laf and Kakko(as the 2 top kids) to show what they can do.

  • Still seems like the value of these stats is a mixed bag. Haven’t really found any site that lists exactly what each version of GAR or xGAR is made of. Seems like a in house specialty. Those types of stats can always be very biased toward a certain type of player. While we may all like hedman …is he really that great of a defender or just pushing the offense to such an extent that he is rarely forced to defend? I actually think he is a good defender but just making a point.

    How does one account for the playoffs? This stat will never hold any value in the nhl because of this simple question. Anyone who watches hockey or the nhl for that matter can easily ascertain that these two games are emphatically different. What succeeds in the regular season rarely translates into the postseason success. Just go ask any oiler fan/maple leaf fan how well regular season success indicates post season winning.

    I take the stats for what they imply and you don’t want mika out there in a defensive situation. And you would prefer strome last season in all situations over mika. Which isn’t very far off from the eye test and general statistics. And if Mika’s goals for and expected goals for is (.3) and I know he had 40 goals for at even strength and 43 against, while strome was (.5) and he had 46 goals for and 40 goals against at even strength. How does that even translate? Strome was 19 overall in the league for actual goals scored at even strength among NHL centers. Mika is 35th to put it in some perspective.

    It just doesn’t add up. The goods being sold to you as a subscriber are just a bunch of bs imho. Baseball is a very static game. It has rules in place that mandate you can’t deviate from a set path, like being called out for running outside the line. A pitcher can’t pitch from any where but the mound. Hockey on the other hand is extremely fluid and because it is so fluid it rules are extremely grey. Something like WAR is just not calculatable in hockey. And if you could find that magic combo…… the stats are just not accurate enough to truly base money on. Just watch a game from the seats one night a try your best to keep an accurate track of how many hits happen in 1 game. Then compare them to the actual record post game.

    I am pretty sure this exact method was proven as a failure in arizona these past two seasons with what John Chayka tried to do. Everything I read said this is/was his specialty. And it panned out so bad he lost his job, a first round pick, and they are still horrible. It is like these heat maps of shots that Dave posts after every game. How accurate can they actually be? Is there a chip inside the puck measuring every time a increase in velocity happens? Are there sensors the goalie is wearing to say he made contact with the shot for a save? How many times have you watched a game on tv and couldn’t tell till the replay that it was a save? Is someone going over the miles of footage from every game to maintain the legitimacy of each post game stat record? 20 years ago player safety was recording only 4 games a night to be able to review. If something happened in the other games that night well they had to go by the players and refs dictation of the events. Think my point is made. I don’t place much faith in them.

    Trade Strome or Mika and elevate Chytil. Sign some gritty heart type players for the 3rd and 4th lines. And keep drafting centers over the next 3 seasons with our 1st round picks. And with any luck we can have a cup in 4 to 5 years. If you believe we are serious cup contenders in 3 years you are out of your minds. In anyone’s mind in the league we are well ahead of schedule with the rebuild. Why stop now? Just remember in 5 years chytil will be 27 and at his peak performance career wise.

    • Chayka got Conor Garland, had years of hideous drafts before him, then was told by ownership to build a playoff today team so owner could sell the team, then got the Money Laundeting owner.

    • You make a lot of Great points. But I have to disagree with your concluding paragraph there. We simply have too many prospects and too many big contracts to not make a trade for an upgrade at a position of need. You’re looking at losing these very well developed Dman because we have too many. And these high end wingers we’ve drafted aren’t getting the ice time deserved for them to flourish. And I don’t know what any of those stats are really trying to say.. but we know Mika is really good defensively. And that strome isn’t. We also know Mika is a career 48% faceoff man, while spending the last 3/4 years going against the other east teams top centers. He had a bad year + covid. It happens. He’s still better than stepan lol. But if you’re going to have an 11mil player and an 8mil player and all of these high end wingers drafted you need to compete. And moving assets who won’t find playing time for an upgrade at a positional weakness such as center can push us into contention.

      There are many players like strome in the league. There aren’t many Mikas

      • Statistically Mika is a defensive liability. His wingers are more adept at playing the defensive side of the ice. Read on and look at the conversation below. I made some accurate points on how he is a defensive liability. As did others.

        I am not looking to lose any of the D prospects. They have a value at every point in their development. I just would rather see what we really have versus just trading away assets cause we have too many. To further the point…did you think Fox would be as good as he was this past season based off of last year’s performance? It is a the age old problem with this franchise since sather took over. Players are pigeon holed into certain roles and never get to show any other aspect of their games. It is why a guy like Graves never got a look on our team and now is a flourishing top d man for Colorado.

        The whole story line that Strome is a not a good player is really kind of being put to bed. He certainly has a deviation in his play because of his winger…anyone would. But he is not as bad as people think he is. But he is not worth what supposedly he will get come contract time. So I let him walk or trade him. No crime in that. Players just get to expensive for the own good.

        I don’t think it is a possibility in a flat cap to afford Mika and Laffy, Kappo,Trouba, Panarin, Kreider, and Fox. As it stands today…Kreider, Trouba, Panarin eat up 8.0, 9.8, and 14.3 percent of our total cap. Add in Mika for 12 percent when he gets his new contract. That would roughly be 44 percent of our total cap. In just 4 players. Now add in Fox and you are at 50 percent in 5 players. Not a formula for success long term.

        Who are you giving up? If you have to make a choice on these players which one do you let walk? 3 out of the 5 right now have no movement clauses. So Panarin, Trouba, and Kreider are here to stay. So really it just comes down to Fox and Mika? I know exactly who I let go.

        The days of being attached to certain players is long gone. Free agency and cap restrictions are just part of the overall game. It sucks, but it is the reality of today’s NHL. Trust me I was so pissed when they let go of hagelin, but I understood it.

  • How about since Vancouver is going to be in cap trouble , maybe we move our first round pick or a young d man and chytil or strome to get back the center we should have never traded . JT Miller . He slides in right behind zib. Points and he has some grit . Then go out and get a martinhook type center for the third line and I think Barron can handle that 4 c spot

    • Chris,
      Too much to give up for JT. He has some pluses, but at times can be a lazy player and takes shifts off. We have Kreider to do that. We can do better than JT, unless he comes at a really bargain basement price.

  • Hey Gents,

    First time posting here. Die hard Ranger fan living in Tampa (Lightning Fans are the worst.)

    Here’s the rangers current roster shell:

    Laf-Zib-(Buch)
    Panarin-Strome-Kakko
    Kreider-(Chytil)-Kravtsov
    Barron-Rooney-Blackwell
    (Gauthier), (Howden)

    Lindgren-Fox
    Miller-Trouba
    Jones-Lundkvist
    (Hajek or Bitetto)

    The team is going to have to move on from some of the skill here to add toughness and better support down the middle. The most logical players to move IMO are: Strome, Blackwell and Jones. These are all candidates that we can sell high on and replace with grittier players. Personally, I’d sign a face off specialist like Czikas to play on the 4th line between Rooney and Barron. Swing a trade for Elias pettersson from Vancouver and then sign a vet defenseman (Martinez?)

  • Aside from the fact that I think it’s likely the Rangers get Eichel this year and Strome goes the other way in a deal with the Ranger’s 1st rounder (and maybe a B prospect, though Eichel gets cheaper to acquire by the day) this summer, Chytil should really be getting 2nd line minutes or at least the new coach will need to roll the 3rd line more.

  • Keep Chytil, he projects to be like Petr Nedved 2.0 when he realizes his potential. Trade Strome at by next year’s TDL since his value is as high as it’s gonna get. Sign Aleksander Barkov next summer as an UFA. There’s your top 3 centers going into Cup contending phase.

    • Chytil is a soft player. We already have too many like him. Trade him while you can still fool other teams into believing he is going to be great. Go get be Barkov.

  • I definitely agree we should keep Chytil. He was playing very well prior to the injury and while it took him time to get going post-injury, I think he ended the season well. At only 22 years old, it is a no-brainer. I don’t think we afford both Zbad and Strome. I would prefer keeping Mika. 7 years at $9m AAV is hard to swallow, but that is what a quality 1st line center will cost. I think he’ll continue to be a very good player for at least 5 more years. Strome demonstrated he can generate offense even without the certain Russian. But between him and Mika, Z is the more balanced player.

  • My 2 cents:

    Zib is an elite center. He is a pt per game player and his defense is good enough for effective D zone play and for the PK as well.

    Where there is an “issue” is that Zib’s play is driven by Buch. Buch is a beast when it comes to driving possession and driving play, in general. Zibs #s away from Buch are astonishing, based on the charts that I have seen, that clearly show what I am saying here.

    But, from what I know, Buch will be re-signed. So, the Zib/Buch combo will be intact. Does this make a Zib contract extension a guarantee? No it does not. So who replaces Zib’s production? Once again, I think the Eichel idea is a horrific one. I would rather overpay and keep Zib than trade and pay Eichel. An obvious injury risk, not that Zib is not an injury risk, but a neck injury?

    What the Rangers do with Zib, will dictate what they do with the rest of the Ranger roster, IMO. I would sign up for a 6 year, $8M per deal for Zib. I think he would be productive for 4 of those years. But, would Zib take that contract? IDK. Just say “no” to the Eichel idea.

    Chytil, SHOULD be the 2C. I don’t know how many times that I have to say it. 19th in the league in 5 on 5 pts per 60, at a measly 12 minutes per night. He also needs PP time, if not PK time, to get him to a comfortable 15 minutes per game. Put him with Panarin and Kakko, and let them play. Gallant would, if he were the coach.

    Strome? Needs to be traded. His stats are padded by Panarin. I mean any player’s would. But if another team buys in, then sell high. His last 10-15 games of the year, the most important of the season, he was no where to be found on the score sheet. Strome is the one to be traded, IMO.

    • I cannot really disagree with your analysis Tony even though I might think Strome to be a little better than your take on him. Be that as it may, I have faith that Chytil is ready to take the next step. He might hit an occasional bump in the road, but he just needs the promotion as he is ready to grow into it.

      Zibanejad and Chytil as 1C and 2C. If Strome is not traded, he might be fine at 3C. The wrong move would to let a bunch of prospects go for Eichel and then pay him $10 million on top of that. Maybe wait until Barkov is UFA to go for a center if you think you can afford him, or trade for a young cheap center to play 3C and trade Strome.

      • Peter, the problem with Strome being here, is that, if he is here, then he will be the 2C. The only way to get around that is for Strome to be traded.

        I could be wrong, and maybe the new coach takes a different approach, but I see Strome as 2C as long as he’s here. If Strome dropped down to 3C, then the next issue is his bad D zone play. The 3C really needs to play both sides of the ice, and I don’t think that Strome is that.

        At the other BSB, one of the posters put up charts of Zib and Eichel. Zib’s charts showed that he needed help driving play, while Eichel’s charts showed that his teammates dragged down his play. So, that is really food for thought, and is supported by Buch’s play driving Zib’s success.

        I wonder if the Rangers have the proper approach to make the right decision.

    • “Put him with Panarin and Kakko, and let them play. Gallant would, if he were the coach.” No he wouldn’t…. Lol that is such a reach, I think you “hope he would play him up there”. Going by his type of player’s, Chytil doesn’t fit the bill one bit.

      Panarin obviously doesn’t want to play with him. Why would you piss off a top rated player for a guy like Chytil? Literally Brooks, Quinn and Foreverblueshirt openly talked about this problem… Coming into the previous season, Howden had a total of less than 3-4 points to Chytil’s overall production lol.

      Sorry but in no way is it logical to hand give Chytil that when he has failed at….
      – Giving this team depth to be serious.
      – Giving this team a elite 3c.
      – Giving this team a option as a worthy middle six guy.

      ^ He failed at doing all of that and didn’t form any chemistry with the future pieces of this team. I think Chytil is more of a western conference type of guy who has to play on a team like Arizona to get his “top 6” reps in. I see him going in a trade for 27484 reason’s, one being a lack of chemistry with his teammates.

      The Andersson and Chytil thing needs to officially be done.. You can’t build around that kind of quality and expect good things to happen.

      • What proof do you have that Chytil does not have the goods? His per 60 stats say otherwise.

        Similar to Buch, when Buch was not getting proper minutes, these players do not have as good an annual set of stats as they should. Buch’s #s went up because, and wait for it, because he got more minutes per game. It’s that simple.

        Chytil would produce similar results with more minutes. And, I am not so sure that Panarin is in love with stick?Strome as Ranger fans thinks he is. i mean, doesn’t Panarin get tired of seeing his crisp passes flubbed on Strome’s

        • “i mean, doesn’t Panarin get tired of seeing his crisp passes flubbed on Strome’s”

          Maybe… Or maybe Panarin is smart enough to know unlike Chytil, he doesn’t fear away at certain spots on the ice. Chytil is like that bad driver who tries to steer away from doing parallel parking. Anything requiring him to get the puck on his back-hand, ends up being a no go for him. As a hockey player, all I see from him is taking short-cuts.

          “Buch’s #s went up because, and wait for it, because he got more minutes per game. It’s that simple.”

          Dude relax, Buch has been a 35-45 point player next to a elite 70+ point center(Zib). We have had those kinds of players seeing 13-14 mins a night with much less PP time, with better numbers lol.

          • “It’s been proven that Buch drives Zib, not the other way around.”

            That’s not what’s going to get Buch paid as much as Zib when he becomes a UFA soon. Zib>Buch superior level, Buch isn’t even good enough to be more valuable than average top 6 center. Let alone a elite center like Zib… There’s tons of none top line player’s with great metrics around the league…

            If Buch isn’t next to a 30 goal scorer and 70+ producing center, than he becomes a 30 point player. Plain and simple.

          • I don’t agree. I think Buch is a 40-50 point winger regardless of who his center is. I think the biggest difference in his play this past season was his commitment to back checking.

            I would argue like richter that if you take buch and Kreider away from mika…mika is nowhere as effective. Mika only had 12 even strength goals. Buch had 16. Buch was the only 1 out of the 3 of them to have a positive goal differential at a +8. Kreider was an even 0 and Mika was a -2.

            If you look at Goal differential over the past 3 seasons Mika is a -8, Kreider is a +22, and Buch is a +6. Who is driving the offense buddy at even strength?

            As a alternative reference … take panarin’s last 3 seasons worth of goal differential and he is second in the league only to Bergeron at a cool +72. To go out and claim Mika is a elite…is just absurd. You have to at least be a net positive in this simple statistic to be considered elite.

            I get that you are a fan of his. But look at his stats. Compare them to others around the league. Where is he elite? Give me or anyone for that matter a stat in which he stands head and shoulders above the league?

          • The charts show (with and without Buch), clearly that his linemates benefit greatly from his play.

            Zib the biggest benefactor of Buch’s play, which is dangerous as it relates to a possible long term contract that Zib may receive.

          • Buchevich scored 48 points in a 54 game season. You aren’t connected to reality.

          • Just like in 2013, some guy’s outperform their original play from a regular 70+ game schedule.. If he doesn’t show up next season, than all that will look like was a minor blip when he becomes a UFA.

            Take a seat, Buch has nothing to show for playing with a 70-80 point center.

      • There is no evidence whatsoever that Panarin doesn’t want to play with Chytil except in your imagination.

    • I don’t rate him as a elite center Richter. 6 years to develop is not exactly elite. He is a net negative on goal differential and it is even more pronounced against the elite teams. He can’t win a puck battle or faceoff to save his life. It is why a lot of times our power play seems to struggle, those 15 seconds to retrieve a puck after a faceoff loss add up. Just because you average a point per game against the devils and sabres, doesn’t mean you are elite. I am beating a dead horse. I am sorry.

      I willing to take eichel on one condition…if we get him for nothing but a swap of picks and say mika or strome. I take that injury risk and use it on LTIR against the cap. I don’t want Eichel for say a cost of kappo or laffy plus picks, while the first makes no sense to make the trade, the second option just costs too much for a maybe oft-injured player. The future value of Kappo or Laffy and their cap restricted hits is more valuable than anything a player like Eichel can make.

      You are never going to be able to swap Mika’s production in a 1 to 1 ratio. And his struggles early on this season proved just how essential his production is to our team and its’ success. I am not going to argue that. But you completely tore down a team that the year before made it to the semi-finals against Ottawa. So we are still 5 years away if you are being completely honest. Prospects take time to develop. We have no idea of the players we really have in Kappo, Kravs, and Laffy. We have absolutely no idea what a Robertson, Lindqvist, and Jones are going to be long term. We have ideas. But nothing definitive. Time is needed to be a effective judge with these players.

      The exact opposite can be said about Mika and Strome. We know as well as the rest of the league who they are. Are either of them capable of shutting down or playing better then say a 36 year old Crosby? Do you honestly think either one of them is say better than a Barkov, or Landeskog? Landeskog is a free agent this summer. You want to pay someone 10 million a year in a flat cap ……that is who I’d choose. I agree with Rob in that you probably let Strome walk. He is just going to be a cap casualty.

      But this team was built from the back end forward. So you take your chances drafting centers the next few years and hope you get a diamond in the rough and add stop gaps along the way til that day comes. You cannot afford all the players we have signed long term and Mika. It just doesn’t add up. 40% of your cap on 5 players is not a winning formula. You end up just like toronto. And remind me when they last won a single playoff series?

      And while the Habs are not a fun team to watch play, they keep consistently winning against higher powered teams. I don’t know if you are watching the playoffs at all but those games I caught with the bruins against the caps were some of the most boring hockey I have ever watched since the days of trap. But till the NHL decides to enforce interference again that is going to be the game that wins cups.

      • The one thing that I have learned through this due diligence process of what to do with Zib, is that his underlying stats are not nearly as good as his traditional stats.

        Shooting at a ridiculously high shooting % (over 20%) cures a lot of ills, relating to possession and driving play in general. But the question is, is it sustainable and relied upon in the long term? The answer is “no.”

        And the “with and without” Buch comparisons are extremely compelling, and daming to Zib’s case for getting a long-term deal.

        The scenario that has been bandied about to get Eichel, is to trade Strome and Zib, to different teams, and all for futures. Then take all those futures received in those trades and trade them all to Buffalo for Eichel, along with the Rangers’ 15th pick. No Ranger roster players going the other way.

        • “The scenario that has been bandied about to get Eichel, is to trade Strome and Zib, to different teams, and all for futures”

          That is 100% false talk… The moral message has been to supply this team another top 6 center to split the top six. So much that there’s been speculation of needing to get rid of one of CK or Trouba.

          The org has never alluded that they want to replace Zib, they want to add hence the Buch trade rumors. They already know that they are saving that $$ for Zib.

          • My friends, who have some inside information, say that Buch will likely stay, and that the “trade rumors” are more media fabrication and speculation, as opposed to reality.

            The fact of the matter is that older fans, like me, have to realize that the NHL style of play has changed, and that new stats or metrics are used to define good play.

            Slamming someone into the boards does not make that player a good player. Possession and creating scoring opportunities do, not to mention the ratio between creating scoring opportunities vs giving up scoring opportunities. It’s not all about traditional stats anymore.

            It is also a fact that some of the better Ranger players had very high shooting %s in scoring goals. That is a major red flag, because it means that the Rangers are scoring goals on fewer scoring opportunities.

            What’s the result of what I just said? Well, look at the Rangers’ results against the better teams. Not so good. That’s because the Rangers are scoring the goals against the bad teams and bad goalies. They are not driving good play on a consistent basis. And therein lies the Rangers’ issue of playing better against the better teams.

            And Ranger fans want to get rid of players like Buch and Chytil, 2 players that absolutely play the style of play that helps the better NHL teams win and contend. It’s ass backwards, and just flat out wrong.

            So, let’s say that both Zib and Eichel are healthy the next 5 years, based on what I just said (style of play that wins in the NHL), Eichel wins overwhelmingly. But the neck injury is a big red flag, and if the Rangers do trade for him, and he’s damaged goods, then it kills the Rangers for years to come.

            IMO, it is a really, really tough call for Drury.

          • “My friends, who have some inside information, say that Buch will likely stay, and that the “trade rumors” are more media fabrication and speculation, as opposed to reality.”

            Your person most likely goes by what the internet says…. Buch staying around this season doesn’t mean anything… All the info that has come out so far has alluded to Rangers wanting to add to this core… That alone should tell you that Buch is nothing but a trade chip..

            Unless if you consider it a win for him to still be on the team? Other than that, don’t expect them to re-sign him…

          • #1, I give you all info to chew on, it’s not a guarantee that any particular thing will happen.

            #2, my friends have been right quite a few times over the years to prove that the info they get is legit.

            #3, you’re the typical Ranger fan who entirely misses the boat on players like Buch and Chytil. Your perception that they are “soft players” automatically makes you think that they are bad, or, not worthy players to keep.

            Can Buch be traded? Of course, but, as of now, that does not seem to be the intent of the Rangers, as far as I have heard. Disagree, it’s your right.

            And, IMO, it would be idiotic not to bring him back. A 6 x 6 contract should do it.

          • “And Ranger fans want to get rid of players like Buch and Chytil, 2 players that absolutely play the style of play that helps the better NHL teams win and contend. It’s ass backwards, and just flat out wrong.”

            ^ It sounds like you don’t watch the playoffs man.. Neither of those two would be moving parts on a contender… You really think that teams like Carolina and Colorado would make room for them?! I think the league views Buch as his number’s suggest.. He has been a 40 point player, playing next to a 70-80 center who can score 30 goals in his sleep… He really has nothing to show for it…. Chytil has been handed down plenty of important roles with not much to show neither. Sorry brah

          • I know what playoff hockey looks like. And the fact of the matter is that Buch bulked up this year and he was around the net a lot more often.

            He even played a more physical game this season, and did not back down in the infamous “Wilson game.”

            Chytil is still filling out. He will be fine.

  • Bump Chytil up to 2c and the let kid grow with his linemates who Drury sees as long time Rangers, Bring in a Perry to mold him as top 6c . My problem with Strome is his Penalties, always at the worst time of a gm. Mika I dont see taking anything less than Panarin so trade him on the High. Trouba no doubt has already hurt the Cap structure on D. That killed me seeing how we just got out from under Stall,Girardi albatross signings,along with 2 buyouts of Shatty & costing Dolan & Rangers invaluable cap to bring in an Experienced Center, or protector and keep Howden for 2+yrs with 1 empty net goal

  • I am going to throw a wild trade proposition, Nolan Patrick for Ty Ronning, and the NYR #15 pick, and if Philly doesn’t accept it and they get no better offers, sign Nolan to an offer sheet at 1.28 mil and Philly gets no compensation.

  • There really isn’t much of a quandary in my view. We have one mid level 1C. One low level 2C . One young kid playing 3C who isn’t a center and a promising 4C with 3C upside. It’s the key position on a team and a major weak spot for the Rangers. Drury has his work cut out for him.

    • “One young kid playing 3C who isn’t a center and a promising 4C with 3C upside.”
      Chytil is a grown man…

      The issue about bumping him up revolves around his uncertainty to even be a top 3c candidate . Drury can’t risk bumping him up without getting a bottom 6 center depth that looks like the NYI.

      I always knew that banking on Chytil and Anderrson would come back to bite this team. Smh

  • I re-read your post David, and it is very, very well done. Great information. And, to your ultimate conclusion, there is no “concrete, right way” here. The Rangers do have a big problem here, making the decision on who is going to be the true #1C on this team for next year.

    To me, the “fallback” position is to try to re-sign Zib to a team friendly deal. To me, 6 years at $8 to $8.5M per. No way he gets 7 years and no way he gets over $9M per. Or, let me rephrase, he SHOULD NOT get that projected contract.

    Strome, not even a discussion. He should get traded, end of story. No way he gets more than the $4.5M he’s getting now. There should not be another Ranger contract in his future.

    I would absolutely lock up Chytil, long-term, at $4.3M per. Do it now. He is on the rise and he will be a very good 2C with appropriate/ talented linemates.Zi

    So, going back to Zib and the 1C, if not:

    Zib re-signed to a team friendly contract; or
    Eichel due to injury concerns; or
    Barkov due to re-signing with FL or being traded to someone other than the Rangers;

    then, who? Because the Rangers are absolutely not going into next season with a true, #1 center. And, not necessarily out of the realm of possibilities, the Rangers go into next year with Zib, try to make the playoffs, and then roll the dice from there with Zib. Not a great situation at all. Or, if they are out of the playoffs by the trade deadline, then try to trade Zib as a rental, if he lets them.

    • Montreal is doing pretty well right now without the stereotypical elite first line center. Doing it with a committee of Suzuki/Danault/Kotkaniemi. Vegas does ok for themselves as well, with good but not great players down the middle.

      I think with a real coach the Rangers would’ve made the playoffs this year. That was the biggest problem this team had, the incompetence behind the bench is unlikely to be at Quinn levels with any of the candidates the Rangers have looked at. Going forward, the Rangers have scoring wingers who drive play, solid goaltending, and the D will soon be another strength. That’s why I’ve been advocating for a signing of Danault, and a trade of Strome. An elite defensive center balances out the group nicely. Going crazy on the trade front is really unnecessary now.

      • Those 3 centers are tremendous players, just not household names. Suzuki should have been our pick in 2017, ahem.

        Denault is a definite top 6 center but would be an excellent 3C, though he may not be paid as a 3C (he probably will get more than a 3C should get). Denault may cost 6M per. I don’t know that that would be worth it, IMO.

        Plus, the Canadian teams are frauds, IMO. Beating up on each other. How does MTL do in the Rangers’ division this year? They don’t make the playoffs. The Leafs are paper tigers and proved it by doing what they did in the first round.

        And I 100% agree with you, that if Gallant were coaching the Rangers this year, then the Rangers would have made the playoffs. Even with all that they went through, this season.

        • I wouldn’t call the north division teams frauds, the goalie play alone of guys like Hellebuyck and Price is world-class. Toronto is a fraud, perhaps, but even the bad teams had players like the Tkachuk brothers, Elias Petterson, Lindholm, Hughes, Ehlers etc. I disagree that Montreal wouldn’t have made the playoffs in the Rangers’ division, they’d have had a shot due to their defense and goalie play. They had an unlucky regular season, the Canadiens. I think they’d have been another version of the islanders in our division, and wouldve feasted on Buffalo/NJ/Philly.

          The Danault thing makes NYR legitimately three lines deep. A third line of Kreider/Danault/Kravtsov would be a potentially great line. Size, speed, defensive tenacity, and streaky goal scoring. Danault would be a safety net if either Zib or Chytil start slow next year. Either way though, we agree on the wisdom of a Strome trade and the coaching issues.

  • Drury want to keep North american players and send european players to another teams. For first will send Buchnevitch, Kravtsov and Lundqvist to Calgary for Sean Monahan and Andrew Mangiapane. After that will send Chytil and Georgiev to Buffalo for Draft.

  • Back to top button
    >