Rangers feeling the Chytil
The Rangers are getting ready to open up the season next Thursday against the Colorado Avalanche. This weekend the staff will have some decisions to make with the roster currently standing at 32 and needing to get down to 23.The Chytil is On!
Chytil, pronounced “heat-il” has made an impression. I’ll admit, at 17 I didn’t think this kid had a shot to make the Rangers out of camp. When he was drafted, almost everyone felt the Rangers were reaching. The kid just made the cut to be eligible by 10 days for this draft, as he turned 18 on September 5th. Now here we are, and there’s no doubt that he stood out the most amongst all players competing for a spot this preseason.
After 4 preseason games, Chytil notched 1 goal and 2 assists. More importantly to me was the 11 shots on goal, meaning he wasn’t gun shy and shooters are desperately needed on this team. In contrast, the other young centers competing for a spot only took 8 shots combined (Lettieri 4, Andersson 3, Nieves 1).
Now the kid will get a nine game look to make the team for the season, but if he does the Rangers must fully commit to him through the good and bad. If the Rangers opt to keep him that means they lose a year off his entry level contract and he will be closer to free agency should he play 40 games. (Note: this also applies to Lias Andersson)
The facts are simple, if the kid continues his preseason play and is ok defensively, he must stay. With so much uncertainty at center, Chytil could be that offensive spark this team really needs. Throw Michael Grabner on his wing, a player who can fly and help cover the kid’s defensive mistakes and a recipe for success exists.
Chytil’s Success Depends on Vigneault
Obviously the kid needs to perform and be responsible for his performance. However, in the case of developing a super talented young forward, Alain Vigneault is the key. He simply CAN’T treat Chytil like he did Pavel Buchnevich last season.
Buchnevich was bounced all over the lineup, scratched, and then left to languish at times on the 4th line. I am sorry, offensive players don’t belong on a 4th line that is typically meant to provide a 30 second breather for the other three lines. Playing 8 to 10 minutes a night on a line that’s primary job is to not get scored on will kill the kid’s development. GM, Jeff Gorton agrees, “we do not want to put them (Andersson/Chytil) on the fourth line where they will not be able to develop”.
Chytil must be a lock on the 3rd line and get EXTENSIVE power play minutes. If he isn’t playing 12-15 minutes a game, just send him away to develop elsewhere. Young offensive forwards need to be allowed to be creative and learn from their mistakes. Alain Vigneault must be committed to letting him do that, which we know is a tall order for a coach that overly relies on veterans.
Chytil is a Future Top Line Center, Don’t Blow It
In just 4 preseason games, we’ve witnessed a young player who has an incredible release, excellent skating ability, and deft passing skills. He even received high praise from Mats Zuccarello, “He’s really skilled. You can see that in practice every day, the way he moves the puck and sees the ice”.
This kid has all the tools and right now he has tons of confidence. That can quickly be destroyed by a coach who refuses to allow rookies to make mistakes. Alain Vigneault needs to fight back his old habits and take heed of what Zuccarello said after Chytil’s OT winner.
The Rangers desperately need a superstar forward. They need a future game breaker and a guy that can grab a game by the throat offensively at any time. Filip Chytil looks like that player. A future where he and Pavel Buchnevich are terrorizing NHL goalies can happen. The onus is on the organization for both these players, but the heat is on this season to make sure it happens for Chytil.