Over the past couple of years, the New York Rangers have transformed the makings of their team. With a variety of roles on their roster, the Rangers have a hopeful future to come.
However, many underrated players on the New York Rangers don’t get enough credit for their work. A good hockey team is not defined by the superstars you have. It is defined, by the number of players that can collectively come together and fill their role. Sure superstars are great, but there’s a reason teams don’t compose their entire roster with guys like McDavid and Panarin. Without unique key players, the makings of our team would lack depth and variety.
So where does that bring the Rangers right now? You may be wondering how the Rangers can improve their depth; but instead, how about we take a look at who can help the Rangers improve their depth.
Starting Them Young
One of the most influential people when developing a team is obviously the coaching staff and the manager. That being said, David Quinn and Jeff Gorton have both done a phenomenal job building this team from the ground up. Their rewarding system benefited those who worked hard, both on and off the ice. Many experienced players that the Rangers brought in, like Jacob Trouba, and Ryan Strome, take some time to fully buy into this system. Once they embraced Quinn’s plans, they started to reap the rewards.
Although Trouba and Strome are great examples of embracing Quinn’s philosophy, that’s not the entire point. My argument has to do with what I like to call, the “teens” of the Rangers. These are players who aren’t completely new to the pros but are still far off from being veterans.
Where To See Improvement
These so-called “teens” are essential for offering depth on the Rangers team. With a team ranked top five in both power-play goals, and average goals per game last season, the expectations for forwards are set high. While on the other hand, the Rangers were tied for third last season in goals against, they certainly lack defensive depth.
Which is where the “teens” come in handy. Such as Adam Fox, Kaapo Kakko, Brett Howden, Filip Chytil, Igor Sheshterkin, and Julien Gauthier. The reason these young players can be such big contributors is that only so many have only seen a taste of what they have to offer. That applies to all of them. These are the guys that the Rangers need to get to the next level to improve our play.
Take Adam Fox for example. With his first season in the NHL in the books, Fox is in the running for the Calder Trophy. The Calder Trophy is an award is given to the most proficient player in his first NHL season. Imagine the improvements he will make in seasons to come. Fox tallied 8 goals, 34 assists, and 42 points this past season, and is ranked 15th in scoring as a defenseman.
As many know, the right-handed defenseman is tough to come by, and a dominant two-way player like Adam Fox has the potential to be a superstar. In my opinion, Adam Fox is the most versatile of the Rangers’ players. His version on the ice is amazing, and in the defensive end, his stick placement is always on point. If he can become a little quicker and stronger on the puck, I wouldn’t be surprised to be sharing franchise records with Brian Leetch.
One of the teams most looming problems is the lack of depth at the center position. With a strong first line centerman named Mika Zibanajad, the centerman talent trickles down after him. Although Ryan Strome proved to excel playing with star forward Artemi Panarin, the Rangers have two talented up and coming centermen lurking in the shadows. They go by the names of Filip Chytil (age 21), and Brett Howden(age 22). Both very young with a few seasons under their belt, these two centers are nowhere near their fullest potential. Its safe to say that a centreman is in the control center of the offense, a lack of confidence and command as occasionally seen in Chytil and Howden, is a detrimental flaw. Never the less, these young guns pushed through adversity and are finally on the verge of greatness.
With a little more confidence in their stride, these two young men have made subtle improvements. Often escaping the average fans’ view, these two kids are behind the scenes in many of the Rangers scoring chances. Take Brett Howden for instance, a player who only recorded 19 points this past season, appeared to be a leader in the postseason when the Rangers stars were nowhere in sight. This has a lot to do with Howdens linemates. In order for himself to improve, he must be playing with the top-notch competition. When occasionally finding himself centering 2nd overall draft pick Kaapo Kakko, they created quality scoring chances for the New York Rangers.
Many can genuinely see Filip Chytil putting up big numbers a few seasons from now, so long as he skates with the puck as if he owns the ice. This past season many saw the appetizers in Chytil’s case. Periodically dazzling the fans with behind the back power moves, and no-look passes. If this doesn’t make you want the main course already, well you should go find another restaurant.
As for when that full course meal of Filip Chytil will come, many assume very soon. He has great hands and vision, if he can work on being strong on the puck, he could be a very tough pocket to pick for a defenseman. If Chytil can step up and contribute with players throughout the lineup, the Rangers could have a secret weapon on their hands.
The reason teams with excellent fourth lines are so deadly, is because when you don’t have a line where the other team can slack off, it means every player can contribute. Making no difference when you roll the fourth line over to the first line.
If all lines can be a menace to the opposing team, that’s considered a rarity. Meaning, they have that special word. Depth. Something the Rangers are so desperate to have. Without the players previously mentioned, the Rangers won’t have an X factor. For an X factor, it can win a team the Stanley Cup.