Rangers futures: the Dynamic Line of Artemi Panarin, Filip Chytil and Kaapo Kakko
National Hockey League executives and its army of medical experts continue to work with the Canadian and American officials to determine a way to safely start the next season. In the meantime, we here at Forever Blueshirts can hypothesize and speculate about what the Rangers roster and line combinations may look like in the not too distant future.
Filip Chytil, the future 2nd line center
Ryan Strome will almost certainly continue as Panarin’s centerman for likely the next two seasons. However, Filip Chytil is being groomed as the heir apparent.
Chytil, the 21st overall selection in the first round of the 2017 NHL draft, has made significant strides since making his Ranger debut in 2017-2018 season. His combination of size, speed, skating ability and adept goal scoring touch, would be a perfect compliment for the razor sharp, tape-to-tape passes and extraordinary vision of the electrifying Panarin.
Unlike Strome, Chytil has a second gear to his game as was witnessed during last season when the native of the Czech Republic scored a plethora of highlight-reel goals. When Chytil has the puck and a modicum of open ice, the Garden Faithful tends to scoot just a bit towards the edge of their seat, chair or sofa in anticipation. It is time that head coach David Quinn gives the 21-year-old a prime time slot on the roster.
A future high octane second line?
The right side of the Panarin line also has an opening with Jesper Fast traveling down the I95 corridor to join former Ranger Brady Skjei and the Carolina Hurricanes. The empty slot on the right-wing on the team’s second line is screaming for 2019 2nd overall selection Kaapo Kakko to fill that position.
It’s clear and obvious that the game plan for Kakko last season was to keep the training wheels on and bring the talented Finn along carefully and slowly. The approach to Kakko’s growth was not dissimilar to a young QB on an NFL roster. Well, with his rookie season under his belt and with a tiny taste of playoff hockey now tucked away in his memory banks, like Chytil, the time has come for coach Quinn to unleash the man-child who some felt was the best overall player in the 2019 draft.
Kakko’s offensive game is reminiscent of former Ranger Rick Nash. Kakko’s 6’3 200lbs (and still growing) frame along with his net-mouth wizardry and dynamic stick handling ability would work perfectly with the elite skill levels of Panarin and Chytil.
The engine that runs the machine, Artemi Panarin
Artemi Panarin is a special, gifted and unique player. Panarin has the uncanny ability to lift the play of his line mates. Ryan Strome’s career year in 2019-20 was in direct correlation of having #10 beside him. There is not a shred of doubt in my mind that Panarin would not only elevate Chytil and Kakko, but I truly feel the two former first round picks could bring the Breadman’s game up a few notches as well.
Remember what the Hurricanes did in the three game playoff white washing: they shut down Panarin and Strome was not able to pick up the slack. Let’s see other teams try and smother Panarin while giving Chytil and Kakko gobs and gobs of open ice to work their magic.
Of course, David Quinn and his staff have the final decision to make on who plays what position and with which line mates. But, a line of Panarin-Chytil-Kakko dueling with the suspected “top line” of Alexis Lafreniere, Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider for Ranger supremacy will be quite a friendly battle to uphold. Get pumped up Ranger fans! Your team is loaded and exciting and ready to conquer the rest of the NHL