One of the biggest pieces of a rebuild is acquiring and developing young talent, either through the Draft or via trades. Sometimes, a team can find a talent that everyone else misses, and that talent can become a key piece for their next great run. For the Rangers, that piece looks to be Filip Chytil.
Taken 21st overall out of the Czech junior league during the 2017 NHL Draft, Chytil was relatively unknown to most Rangers fans before he put on a show in his first preseason. This earned him a cup of coffee with the big club to start the year, before being demoted to Hartford, where the young Czech forward then spent a majority of the 2017-18 season.
After the Rangers first big selloff, Filip was recalled by the Blueshirts for their last 9 games of the season, during which he scored his first career goal.
By this season, the Rangers had fully entered their rebuild and Chytil was set to begin his first full NHL season at just 19 years old. Going into the 2018-19 season, it was both hoped and anticipated that the the teenager from Kromeriz, Czech Republic coming into the 2018-19 season would establish himself as one of the core pieces of the next great Rangers team. So how did it all play out?
Filip Chytil’s season is one that was scrutinized by the day as rookie head coach David Quinn spent a majority of the year trying to find the right fit for his new roster, all while trying to make sure that the younger players didn’t get overwhelmed by being in the NHL.
For the most part, it was a successful first full campaign for the teenage center/winger, as he put up 23 points over 75 games played while being moved all around the line up, and back and forth from the wing to pivot and back again.
The season started as frustrating one for the young forward as it took him a little bit to get adjusted while skating primarily with Jimmy Vesey and Jesper Fast to begin the year. The points were hard to come by for Chytil to start the season with just three all situation assists through the first 18 games of the season. Then, in a November game at home against the Canucks, well this happened:
Chytil’s first of the year noticeably lifted a boulder off of his back and he went on a rather historic run with goals in five straight games. The rest of the first half ebbed and flowed for Filip as he bounced around the lineup, showing flashes of the raw skill that instill hope into the future of the Rangers.
At the trade deadline, the Rangers sent away key forwards Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello, which opened up a chance for Chytil to get more ice time and power play opportunities. While it didn’t amount to much in terms of points down the stretch, the Czech forward showed he could hang with top six minutes playing alongside forwards like Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, and Pavel Buchnevich for the last 20+ games of the season.
Finally, I wanted to put Chytil’s season into some historical perspective because trying to grade a 19 year old in his first NHL season is a surprisingly difficult task. I took to Hockey-Reference to see if I could find any comparable seasons and here are some players that I chose at random to compare to Filip.
All of this data is at all situations and courtesy of Corsica and Evolving Hockey.
The chart above gives a good look at how some other 19 year olds performed in their first seasons and it should be rather encouraging that Chytil looks rather favorable among the names there, especially given the context of the teams that these players were playing for at the time.
If there’s anything to take out of what was an objectively bad season for the Rangers, it’s the play of their young Czech winger. Next year, the expectation for Chytil will be to establish himself as a bona fide top six forward and with all of the talent coming into the system, it shouldn’t be a problem for young Filip.
My grade for Chytil this season is a solid B- with the Banter consensus being a B overall. It was definitely a good season for the Czech forward but there were the expected dips as he got adjusted to the NHL level. There’s still a ways to go before we see Chytil in his final form, but he’s shown us flashes of the player he can be, and it’s a good one.
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