The Rangers, in desperate need for a 3C, finally got some good news. Filip Chytil is returning to New York and to the Rangers. Chytil returning to the Rangers is only good news, as it means he took major strides while home in Czechia. We saw some proof of this on Chytil’s Instagram page, and now it seems he’s ready to take the next step.
There is no timetable for his return, and the Rangers would be wise to let him get his work in and take their time. He definitely won’t be back before the All Star break/Rangers bye week. But I don’t think anyone expected him to return that soon. As per usual, I have some thoughts.
1. Chytil returning to the Rangers is only a good thing for the Blueshirts. For the most part their lineup is set, but flawed without a true 3C. Chytil returning to the Rangers doesn’t solve all their issues of late, and certainly not their concerns in net, but his return does impact a lot of other concerns that many have brought up recently.
2. First and foremost, Chytil returning to the Rangers solidifies their third line as a scoring option. Blake Wheeler has been fine, if slow, and Will Cuylle has been fantastic. As much as we like Jonny Brodzinski, and he should be the 13F over Nick Bonino at this point, he should not be the 3C. Depth scoring has been a major concern, and Chytil returning to the Rangers addresses it.
3. What this should also do is take some of the tougher assignments away from Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider (and Kaapo Kakko, to a lesser extent). The problem the Rangers have been facing is without a third scoring threat, teams can easily match up against the Rangers top two lines, especially good teams that have the depth to matchup like this.
With Chytil back, the third line commands far more respect than it does right now, no offense to the current trio. They need that true 3C who would be a 2C on most other teams. Remember, before his injury he was doing just fine with Artemi Panarin and Alexis Lafreniere. He should continue looking good with Cuylle and Wheeler.
4. Chytil returning to the Rangers should also help with overall team defense. Forechecking and neutral zone play were strengths of Chytil’s, and his return should stabilize their play without the puck. Just as Kakko’s return to the top line help smooth out some of their possession numbers, with goals at 5v5 starting to come as well, Chytil’s impact on the third line wll be similar.
This doesn’t address all the defensive issues, but it’s a huge missing piece that will hopefully show us the magnitude of the blue line concerns, if any.
Remember, Chytil is one of their top two-way forwards at a key position.
5. Chytil returning to the Rangers also gives them a full lineup to do a true reset and evaluation of trade deadline needs. They could benefit from another “Will Cuylle type” on the third line, but there’s the outstanding question about Kakko’s viability as the 1RW. Assuming Chytil is back soon, it gives them about a month to evaluate their true needs up front.
It does appear the Rangers need a RW, but we won’t know for sure until the forwards are intact and healthy. However in all fairness, an extra middle-six body wouldn’t hurt.
6. The big thing about Chytil returning to the Rangers is patience. Just because he’s back, doesn’t mean his return is imminent. This is a huge step for Chytil, and it does hopefully put to bed the concerns that he would be out for the rest of the regular season. It certainly looked that way for a while. Assuming no setbacks, of course.
What will be interesting will be how the cap situation plays out. Chytil’s return means no more LTIR space, so a roster move or two would need to be made. But that’s putting the cart before the horse.