For now at least, it looks like the Filip Chytil center experiment is over. The young forward, who’s entering his second full year, hasn’t distinguished himself in camp or preseason.
In today’s practice, he was listed back on the right wing with Brett Howden centering a third line with Vladislav Namestnikov on the other side. Whether or not that is how it’ll look on Opening Night remains to be seen. However, Chytil understands that there are more defensive responsibilities at center. An area he must work on.
Let’s not lose sight of the fact the 21st pick in 2017 just turned 20 earlier this month. He’s a young player, who was featured more on the right wing than at center in ’18-19. It allowed him to create more and score some highlight reel goals. He only wound up with 11 to go with 12 assists for a total of 23 points in 75 games.
It was when coach David Quinn shifted Chytil back to his natural position of center that the Czech’s production suffered. He probably hit a rookie wall. He had never played that many games before in a season. Plus the move to center brought on more defensive responsibilities. An area he must improve on if he’s to eventually become a dependable center.
I never liked the idea of force feeding Chytil to center the second line because I felt it was too soon. There’s no reason to rush him if he isn’t ready. Both Howden and Lias Andersson have had better showings so far. They look more comfortable at the center position and stronger. So, it looks like you can pencil them in for the third and fourth line.
As far as the second line, the practice had veteran Ryan Strome between Chris Kreider and Kaapo Kakko. The older Strome is always an option to shift to center if it’s necessary. Though I’d prefer him on the right wing, there’s no viable option to center the second unit entering the season. Unless you think either Howden or Andersson can. I would say Howden based on how he played last night with Kakko and Vitali Kravtsov. But I doubt Quinn will do that.
If Quinn really wants all three of Andersson, Chytil and Howden on the roster, that leaves Kravtsov as the odd man out. Even though he deserves to make it based on his play, even scoring a nice goal versus the Islanders, he won’t have a spot in the top six. He’s not a bottom six player. They may as well start the 2018 first round pick in Hartford and let him get top minutes.
Unless they were able to move Strome, which is more likely later this season, expect Kravtsov to be with the Wolf Pack. He’ll have close Russian pal Igor Shesterkin with him once he’s reassigned. For now, Shesty is still here.
The Rangers reassigned four players including Adam Huska earlier. Second round pick Matthew Robertson was sent to his Junior team, the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League (WHL). The other cuts were Phillip Di Giuseppe and Tarmo Reunanen. Danny O’Regan was placed on waivers.
Nothing earth shattering. Thirty-one players remain in camp. They are as follows:
Goalies: Lundqvist, Georgiev, Shesterkin
Defensemen: Skjei, Trouba, Staal, Fox, Hajek, DeAngelo, Lindgren, Smith, Rykov, Morrow (PTO)
Forwards: Zibanejad, Panarin, Buchnevich, Strome, Kreider, Kakko, Howden, Namestnikov, Chytil, Andersson, Lemieux, Fast, Kravtsov, Nieves, McKegg, Haley, Fogarty, Lettieri
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