These four young players could be huge for the New York Rangers.
Every good team has depth on both sides of the puck. For the New York Rangers, their depth in goal and on the puck’s offensive side is immense. On defense, they are young and inexperienced, with a lot of room for growth that we can see pan out over the next two years.
For them to have success in what is arguably the toughest division in all of hockey, the Blueshirts will have to fire on all cylinders, with several players finding their game and breaking out before our very eyes. The Rangers added Alexis Lafreniere to an offensive group that scored the NHL’s fifth-most goals per game last season (3.33).
His presence adds another weapon to a lethal offensive unit, one that looks poised to dominate opposing defenses yet again. On that offense are three players who look ready to unleash their true potential on the NHL this season, with a fourth manning the pipes and looking to gain the spotlight he lost to fellow countryman Ilya Sorokin.
4. Kaapo Kakko
After entering the NHL in 2019-20 with sky-high expectations, the number two overall selection found it tough to acclimate to the fastest league in the world. After the six-month hiatus, Kaapo Kakko looked like an improved player over the Rangers’ brief playoff run.
After receiving a promotion this offseason to the right-wing of the Rangers’ second line, Kakko should come out of the gate looking like the player all fans thought he would be after he was drafted. On a line with Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome, Kakko’s production increases regardless of his game’s improvements.
But from all accounts, Kakko looks strong and fast at camp, finishing his chances. After appearing tentative for the majority of last season when it came to shooting the puck, the 19-year-old could surprise opposing teams with his newfound willingness to put the puck on goal. Over 66 games in 2019-20, Kakko had 23 points (10 goals, 13 assists), and despite a regular-season schedule that possesses 10 fewer games, expect the Finnish product’s point total to increase drastically.
The 40-point plateau is within reach for the second-year pro, and a breakout campaign seems to be in store for the Rangers’ prized prospect.
3. Filip Chytil
Entering his third season with the Rangers, Filip Chytil will kick off 2020-21 with the most talented trio yet of his NHL career. Centering the first-overall pick in Lafreniere and 2016 first-round selection Julien Gauthier. Chytil, a first-rounder in his own right, will be able to utilize his skill to create a tantalizing tandem with Lafreniere while the 6-foot-4 Gauthier drives the net.
We have seen flashes of Chytil’s brilliance in his career, whether it was the short-side snipe on Tuukka Rask or the toe-drag goal against Nashville. But the 21-year-old has yet to play consistent hockey, getting hot for stretches and ice cold for others. He finished 2019-20, a season he started in the AHL with the Hartford Wolfpack, with 14 goals and nine assists, good for 23 points.
Those 14 goals are nothing to sneeze at, but we can expect Chytil’s offensive production to pick up, especially with Lafreniere’s addition to his line. More importantly, Chytil will look to make big strides in his two-way game. Winning just 38.4 percent of his career faceoffs, the Czech-native will have to improve that aspect of his game if he hopes to staple down the middle for the Rangers.
Expect Chytil to gel with his fellow youngsters and wreak havoc on opposing defenses, especially since the matchups will favor the Rangers’ third-line.