Filip Chytil inching closer to a return for Rangers

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New Jersey Devils at New York Rangers
Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers may soon be facing a lineup conundrum as injured forward Filip Chytil inches closer to a return. After being ruled out for the season on January 28 due to an upper-body injury, the 24-year-old made a surprise return to practice on April 12.

“It’s great to have him back out there,” coach Peter Laviolette said at the time. “We’re not going to rush him back. Whenever he feels, and the powers that be feel that he’s in a good spot, that’s a different story. Right now, there’s absolutely no timetable”

Recent rumblings around the team suggests that time could be sooner than many suspected. With each passing practice, Chytil continues to show great speed and pace as he works his way back into the lineup.

 “Any time a player is out there and being pushed in practice they’re probably getting better conditioned, a better feel for the puck, better feel for game-like situations,” Laviolette noted on Tuesday. “For me, it is noticeable that he looks good out there. He looks comfortable and I’ve noticed that.”

So, who comes out when Chytil is ready?

Related: Rangers keys to winning Game 2

Filip Chytil inching closer to a return

NHL: Calgary Flames at New York Rangers
Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

When Chytil initially came back to practice, he was rotating in on the third line. Over the last several practices, he’s also took some reps with the top-six forward groups.

Once you eliminate the possibility of breaking up the Rangers’ trio of Vincent Trocheck, Artemi Panarin, and Alexis Lafreniere, that leaves one vulnerable candidate in the top-six. Laviolette often likes to have an extra center on important draws, making right wing Jack Roslovic susceptible to a healthy scratch in favor of Chytil. If Laviolette wants to keep the speedy Roslovic with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider, that would shake up the bottom-six.

Opting to return Chytil to his natural center spot on the third line would shift Alex Wennberg to left wing, either making Will Cuylle a scratch, or bumping him down to the fourth line. Should that move be made, plenty of Rangers’ fans would be displeased seeing Matt Rempe removed from the lineup.

The next question is when would a Chytil return likely occur? If the Rangers continue their strong performance against the Washington Capitals, there’s no reason to rush him back and disrupt the current chemistry. However, if the faster and more aggressive Carolina Hurricanes await in Round 2 (they’re currently up 2-0 over the New York Islanders), that’s when to expect Chytil in the lineup.

In just 10 games this season, Chytil registered just six assists before suffering a suspected concussion against the very same Hurricanes on November 2. If he can return to face them, it will give Chytil a chance to exact some revenge.

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

Mentioned in this article:

More About: