If Filip Chytil is a RW, then Barclay Goodrow is a center

Is fourth liner Barclay Goodrow a permanent thing?

As Filip Chytil inches closer to a return, the question has popped up about where he should slide into the lineup once he does. This has been a regular discussion, whether Chytil is a wing or a center. This is a discussion point on Live From the Blue Seats, and we polled Twitter to some interesting results. The results don’t take into account one thing though. If Chytil is a wing, then Barclay Goodrow as a center is a direct byproduct.

Barclay Goodrow as a center

Luckily, 45.3% of you thought that Chytil should remain as a center. While I certainly understand the option for wing, and he might actually put up more scoring numbers as a wing. This holds especially true if he’s going to the top RW spot. But he’s just fine as a center. In fact, you can make the argument the Rangers need him back as a center.

If you recall last season, the Rangers were without Chytil for 4 weeks due to an upper body injury, which I believe to be a broken hand. During that time, Bret Howden as the 3C was a real thing. We all know how that turned out. This year, it would be Barclay Goodrow as a center if Chytil shifts to RW.

To be blunt, Goodrow has not been good as a center this year. Now part of that is with a grain of salt, as his time as center this season coincides with the Rangers being atrocious. He’s looked bad, both eye test and statistically. But Goodrow, while he can certainly play center, is your definition of a player that is far better on the wing. Chytil is still a good 3C.

Once you move Chytil, you keep him there

This is a drum I’ve beaten to death this season, but depth is a problem for the Rangers this season. It feels like this roster was built in NHL ’22, where day to day injuries don’t really happen. The Rangers don’t have a center, a true center, in their spare forwards. They likely won’t for a while either, as they are not going to wave Ryan Reaves, who is playing well, or Julien Gauthier, who they will likely lose on waivers.

Thus right now, their only option is Barclay Goodrow as a center. That’s their injury depth. That’s also their only depth if they move Chytil to wing. Given Chytil’s age, if their desire is to move him to wing, then they will need to stick to their guns and keep him there. Regardless of injuries. That means if a center goes down, they have no NHL replacement.

That means Morgan Barron better be NHL ready. He’s next in line for a call up, but it can be assumed the Rangers don’t want him to be in the NHL immediately. They want him to grow and build confidence in the AHL first. Much like Lauri Pajuniemi, Zac Jones, and Braden Schneider.

But who plays RW?

A not-so-secret fact about the NHL is that it is much harder to find centers than wings. With Sammy Blais out, right now Goodrow would be the 1RW if Chytil returns as the 3C. Naturally that is not the best use of their top line. Goodrow is not a top line player. The initial thought was to put Kaapo Kakko there as a natural complement to Chris Kreider/Mika Zibanejad, but now that second line is rolling.

Perhaps now is the best time to revisit the Lafreniere-Zibanejad-Kreider line, which put up fantastic numbers early on before it was broken up. That gives the Rangers a very good top six, but also meets the original goal of giving both Laf and Kakko more ice time.

That again avoids Barclay Goodrow as a center on the third line, with he and Chytil forming two-thirds of the third line. The other wing may be a problem until Sammy Blais returns, but Julien Gauthier has shown enough that he may deserve a spot on that line, with Goodrow playing LW.

All of this is a lot of words to say that the Rangers don’t have a true center option if they move Chytil to wing. Love Goodrow or hate him, he’s not a long term option at center. For now, Chytil as the 3C is their only option.