Following up Tuesday’s NY Rangers Top 25 Under 25, which got heated, we get into some top of the lineup players in numbers 10-6. Again, he ground rules for this list are simple. To qualify, a player must be under 25 years old. It doesn’t matter if this player is in the NHL, AHL, or in any of the leagues around the world. If they are Ranger property and under 25, they were considered.
Remember, this is not a prospect rankings. This list considers NHL players as well, since there are a whole bunch that are under 25 years old. As a personal preference, I do generally rank high ceiling players higher on the list than those who are “safe” or have bottom six projections. I also do heavily weight teenagers with regular minutes in pro leagues overseas, since that is not a common occurrence.
One other note, since #9 will likely draw some fire, ceiling matters a lot more when you get to the top ten. You saw ceiling matter a bit in numbers 15-11, but as we get to the NHLers, where they currently play, their role, and what they can grow into does matter.
Aged Out (1): Julien Gauthier
No longer with the Rangers (2): Morgan Barron, Tarmo Reunanen, Evan Vierling
2022 Rankings: Honorable mentions, 25-21, 20-16, 15-11
2021 Rankings: Honorable mentions, 25-21, 20-16, 15-11, 10-6, 5-1
10. Filip Chytil – Center, 2017 1st round (LY: 7)
It pained me to rank Filip Chytil at #10 because I think this kid still has so much untapped potential. He’s a much better play driver than anyone really gives him credit for, and unfortunately just hasn’t put it together for consistent scoring for a variety of reasons.
The big thing to focus on for Chytil is the GF/60, which is far below his xGF/60. Chytil has simply never been given consistent linemates. It’s something we’ve covered before, and this year Chytil saw 3 linemates rotated on and off his line (Alexis Lafreniere, Barclay Goodrow, and Julien Gauthier). Only one of those players is a noted offensive player.
That said, he’s spent a good amount of time with Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko recently, and his regular season scoring numbers haven’t improved beyond 20-ish points per season. Injuries have played a major role, along with lack of powerplay time. He took a giant step forward in the playoffs, and that’s where the optimism still lies with Chytil.
At some point, he has to produce the counting stats for people to be happy. That said, his overall even strength points-per-60 is still fantastic. Since 2019, Chytil is 6th on the Rangers in points/60 at 1.76 (min. 500 even strength minutes). That’s ahead of all forwards except the “Big Four” and Pavel Buchnevich. He has the tools, but it needs to show up consistently.
9. Ryan Lindgren – Defense, trade with Boston (LY: 6)
Ryan Lindgren sliding three spots is going to irk a bunch of people, but it’s really by no fault of his own based on who leapfrogged ahead of him. Lindgren is an overall solid and steady top pair defenseman that has shown in the last two seasons that he doesn’t need Adam Fox to help boost his on-ice performance.
That said, Lindgren has peaked. He is what he is, and is a known entity. He will not put up more offense, and his defensive game, while great, is likely to stay at this level. He’s a top pairing defenseman who is reliable in his own zone and can lay a big hit. He is also, based on what I’ve heard, great in the locker room.
As mentioned above, ceiling matters in these rankings. Lindgren has hit his ceiling, and it’s a great ceiling and great for the Rangers. But the guys ahead of him have higher ceilings. Most haven’t hit it yet, except for Adam Fox, but have shown the flashes they can.
Ranking Lindgren at #9 isn’t a slight to him. If anything, it shows how strong the top-8 can be, and how strong the Rangers can possibly be if all of them hit their ceilings.
8. Braden Schneider – Defense, 2020 1st round (LY: 9)
Ranking Braden Schneider ahead of Ryan Lindgren was a tough call to make, but this is based on ceiling and age. Lindgren will turn 25 this year and has likely peaked. Schneider just hit the NHL this year, has the same defensive pedigree as Lindgren, and has already proven to be more adept with the puck and in the offensive zone.
Schneider put up 2-9-11 in 43 games last season, which outpaces Lindgren almost 2:1. Schneider doesn’t have the defensive chops that Lindgren has yet, but he projects to be almost identical in the defensive zone and physically. So we look at the age and the offense, which leaves Schneider with more room to grow.
Schneider’s ceiling is a top pair capable defenseman, like Lindgren, but with a bit more offensive punch to his game. We saw that on the ice, with Schneider showing no fear to jump in on an offensive and pinch at the blue line. He has some learning and some growth opportunities, and it will be interesting to see how he performs without Patrik Nemeth (354 minutes last year).
7. Vitali Kravtsov – RW, 2018 1st round (LY: 8)
Vitali Kravtsov at #7? Screw you blogger. He’s a quitter!
Ok first off, it’s clear that fence has been mended, and that was on both Kravtsov and Drury.
As of now, he’s a legitimate prospect with top-six potential. He carried his Traktor team in the KHL last season, putting up 6-7-13 in 19 games while looking absolutely dominant on the ice. If you watched his games and Traktor highlights, you saw he left a number of assists on the table because of bad linemates. The team just couldn’t finish.
If you extrapolate his PPG to 49 games, what most of the top guys for Traktor got, you get 15-18-33, good for 6th on Traktor, again despite playing with inferior linemates and leaving assists on the table. From what I read last year, the people that watched him regular say he left about 5 assists on the table because his linemates couldn’t finish. After all, Lukas Sedlak was the team’s highest scorer. You know, he of Columbus Blue Jackets fame.
He also did this at 22 years old. The kid has all the tools to be a solid top six winger. With the fences mended and Kravtsov likely to get a look with Artemiy Panarin, we could see a big jump in his game, and all the “he’s a quitter” nonsense will stop.
Or perhaps it’s just rose colored glasses for me.
6. Brennan Othmann – Forward, 2021 1st round (LY: 13)
Brennan Othmann is one of the reasons why a few guys fell back in the rankings this year. A 50-goal, 97-point season in the OHL after two lost seasons due to Covid will do that for a kid. I am all in on the Othmann hype train, and the only reason why he’s not higher is because of the five kids ahead of him, all of whom you can list, probably in order too.
The Hockey Prospecting charts are a good tool to complement the normal video/stats analysis, but it is worth noting that the projections are tough to calculate when the OHL cancels an entire season. But stats can be misleading, as noted by Evgeny Grachev’s 40-40-80 campaign only to not make it in the NHL way back when.
Othmann will get a long, long look at camp. I don’t think he will make the team for a variety of reasons, but the fact that a 19 year old is getting this kind of look speaks volumes to the hype and ceiling Othmann has. He has the tools and as of now, he has the production in the OHL to match.