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Filip Chytil breaks through

A story of perseverance, opportunity, and undeniable talent

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at New York Rangers Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Before Monday night’s game against the Vancouver Canucks I was looking at the numbers for rookie forwards in the NHL. It didn’t take long for Filip Chytil’s name to catch my eye. At the time he was, arguably, the unluckiest rookie forward in the NHL.

Chytil was scoreless in his first 17 games of the season, yet despite seeing limited minutes he was clearly creating offense and getting chances. Chytil had 21 shots on goal and 49 shot attempts during 5-on-5 hockey in those first 17 games. But the puck simply wouldn’t go in for the young Czech forward.

As we all know, Chytil finally broke through for his first goal of the season on Nov. 12. After that goal, David Quinn did something he has failed to do all season thus far — he moved Chytil up in the lineup. As a result, the teenager finished that game against the Canucks with a season-high six shots on goal. To put that number into perspective: Chytil had just seven shots in the previous eight games, combined.

New York Rangers v Anaheim Ducks Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

It’s been maddening to watch Quinn squander Chytil’s talent on the fourth line. Remember when Quinn said he has to “find him more ice time” on Oct. 15? Prior to the game against the Canucks, Chytil saw less than 10 minutes of ice time in four of the Rangers’ previous six games — and four of those games went to extra time.

No matter which way you cut it, Quinn failed Chytil in the first 17 games of the Rangers season. He can’t go back to wasting Chytil on the fourth line now that he has finally broken through. In short, Quinn has to work with and develop the teenage forward — something that he’s more than capable of doing after his tenure at Boston University.

“There’s reasons why [Chytil] played as much as he has and he’s had chances and he’s a very dynamic player,” Quinn told Greg Joyce of the New York Post. “He’s a threat when he has the puck, for sure. He’s earned the opportunity he got [Monday]. When he plays with that type of pace and (is) responsible in other areas, he’s going to continue to get the ice time that he deserves.”

One has to wonder why it took Pavel Buchnevich’s injury to open the door for Chytil to prove himself to his head coach. As Banter alumni Nick Mercadante mentioned on Twitter, Quinn has shown more patience with Ryan Spooner than he has with Chytil. And that’s just indefensible. For those who aren’t aware, Spooner has a -7.62 Rel CF% and has five shots and zero points in his last six games. He’s been awful, but he’s still been seeing more ice time and more opportunities than Chytil has despite being scratched twice. That has to end.

More goals and more points will follow for Chytil now that he has finally broken through, but they will come in fits and starts if Quinn doesn’t do more to cultivate success for the 19-year old. That means giving Chytil more time on the power play and letting him establish himself in the top-six while Buchnevich is out.