The Filip Chytil concussion concerns have ramped up in recent days, as the Rangers center, out for a few weeks already, has not practiced and there are no signs of when he will return to the lineup. On the ice, this is a major blow to the Rangers, who have been forced to move Barclay Goodrow back to center while Nick Bonino centers the 3rd line. It’s not ideal, and it leaves a pretty large hole down the middle.
Luckily for the Blueshirts, they’ve been winning despite the Filip Chytil concussion, and have played solid team defense in doing so. But Chytil’s absence has led to an issue where the Rangers already poor offensive metrics have taken a turn for the worse, and they are actually a bottom-five team in terms of driving offense. Losing Adam Fox defensively contributes here, but losing Chytil, a quality play driving center, is also part of the problem.
1. On the ice, the Rangers have been managing, but again it’s a less than ideal situation. Bonino is truly meant to be a 4C, and Goodrow is meant to be a winger. They can survive for a few games where they are right now, but the best lines are with them both on the fourth line. That’s less about Bonino and Goodrow and more about finding more consistent offense from the third line, something that’s been a challenge.
2. The good news is that Vincent Trocheck has slid right back into his 2C role and looked great between Artemi Panarin and Alexis Lafreniere. That line is basically scoring at will and doing a great job at driving play. It’s the best of a bad situation, and that line is essentially carrying the Rangers at 5v5. If it weren’t for this line, it feels like all of the offense would come from the powerplay.
3. That’s really the crux of the on-ice concerns with the Filip Chytil concussion. The offense has gone from inconsistent to bad, and is mostly carried by the powerplay. We want to see the Rangers getting to at least a 50/50 split in shot share and xG share, but even around 49% is fine given the talent on the team. Right now the Rangers are at 47% in both, and are bottom-5 in most offensive categories. It’s not a recipe for long term success, even if the defense has been solid.
4. Off the ice, you really need to wonder how serious this is for Chytil. He’s had concussion problems in the past, with at least four diagnosed throughout his playing career. That makes him much more susceptible to concussions too, so it’s not like he’s out of the woods once (if) he returns from this concussion. Naturally, the Rangers are taking their time with him, and it’s the best for Chytil’s future not just as a hockey player, but as a person.
5. Concussions are tricky, and I don’t have a medical background. Everything I know is basically when I’ve read about concussions to athletes. I think the Rangers are doing the right thing by not rushing him back. But you can’t help but think back to Michael Sauer and wonder if it’s about to happen again. Sauer’s career was destroyed by one hit and one concussion though. Chytil’s had several. There’s a bit of a difference, but the similarities are tough to ignore.
6. Hopefully Chytil returns somewhat soon, but the focus should be on his long term health, not rushing him back from another concussion and potentially putting his long term future in jeopardy. The Rangers have been winning, so it’s not much of an issue right now. Even if the Rangers tread water for the next month and play .500 hockey, they’ve banked enough points already to be in contention for a Metro Division title.
7. If Chytil is out long term, then the Rangers have two options. They can hold off on a call up or trade for a bit, and hope that one of the kids shows enough to be called up. As nice as that sounds, none of them are centers. If Chytil needs to go on LTIR, then they have more space to work with to acquire another center via trade. It may not have been part of the plan, but it does appear that another center is on the list of trade deadline moves.
Personally, I think the need for another center would trump the need for a RW. Depth down the middle wins. But that’s a decision that’s a few months away. Hopefully we get good news on the Filip Chytil concussion soon.