Filip Chytil: Season Review
Filip Chytil's sophomore season didn't begin the way he wanted it to, as he was sent down to the AHL following the conclusion of the preseason. Many people believed this was unnecessary because they decided to keep Micheal Haley on the roster, and he offered nothing to the team aside from a few fights and some penalty minutes. However, the stint in the minors seemed to give Chytil enough motivation to return to the NHL, like it did for Mats Zuccarello and Chris Kreider. Remember during the 2013-14 season Kreider started by bouncing up and down from the NHL and AHL, but he eventually scored 20 goals in his first full season in the NHL. The stint in the minors gave Kreider the motivation he needed to take the next step in his pro career. Same thing applies for Chytil. After being recalled, he scored two goals in his first two games, including the game-winner against the Tampa Bay Lightning, a game in which I call Kids Night because all of the younger Rangers stepped up. The journey of Fox and Lindgren began. Kaapo Kakko had a strong game, scoring a goal. Georgiev was terrific in net. Fox scored his first NHL goal. And of course Chytil had the aforementioned game-winning goal. This article is going to analyze some of the plays and goals from Chytil this season. The structure is going to be similar to that of the Lauri Pajuniemi article I wrote recently. Once again, I am limited in what I can analyze since I don't have access to all of the games from this season, so I will be looking at highlights!
This first clip shows off Chytil's speed and ability to lift the puck on his backhand. Watch as he skates through two defenders (one defenseman (Michael Del Zotto!) and one forward). Although this isn't the best defense, it's still impressive that Chytil broke through so easily. Also it was nice to see him put a shot on net with the backhand. I feel like we don't see that as much nowadays. Overall, great play by Chytil.
I apologize for the choppiness of this GIF, GIPHY was being unresponsive so I had to find this on Google. This clip demonstrates that A- we gave to Chytil in the skill category on our Instagram report card. Chytil pulls off a through-the-legs deke to dance around the defender, but finds himself on the goal line, without room to shoot, so his only options were to hold the puck and skate around the net or thread the needle with a pass. The former was the safer play and the latter was the riskier of the two. Chytil decided to take the risk and sauced a pass through the legs of a Sharks player to Jesper Fast who one-timed the puck into the back of the net. This play shows that Chytil isn't afraid to take risks which means that he has guts. And the fact that he passed the puck tells me that he was confident the risk would pay off. There are times when you should go with the safe play and times when you should go with a risky move. Down 1-0 five minutes into the second Chytil decided to pull off not one, but two risky plays; the between-the-legs deke and the pass out in front of the net. Both payed off due to Chytil's confidence with the puck.
The second of Chytil's two goals in the first two games since he was called up shows his determination in getting a shot off. Chytil took the puck from one end of the ice to the other by himself. There's a difference between the selfish play and the right play. He had Kreider skating hard to the net (who definitely was not intending to injure the goalie) but instead of passing it, Chytil made the defender, Dan Hamhuis, bite on his toe-drag which opened up a shooting lane. Chytil then ripped a shot side on the goalie to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. By making a move on the defender and creating a perfect shooting lane, Chytil had to take the shot; it would have been foolish to risk a pass to Kreider. This clip also shows off more of Chytil's skill, which we value so highly.
Skill is once again highlighted in this clip. Chytil pulls off a quick move to the inside on the Florida defender and rips a shot past the goalie. A lot of these clips where Chytil pulls off a move have something in common: they all start with him getting the puck with speed or in stride. It's possible that this allows him to make these risky dangles. I believe this is something the Rangers should keep in mind in terms of Chytil's development; if they can get the puck to Chytil while he's in stride before reaching the offensive zone, he might become an even greater threat to opposing teams.
This final clip is just a fabulous pass from Chytil to Howden. He takes advantage of bad defense, with the two defenders coming to him leaving Howden wide open in front of the net. Chytil slips the pass between Faulk's legs. It should be noted that Justin Faulk is a quality defenseman and that Chytil was his responsibility, the other defender, longtime player and another quality defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, left Howden wide open. This clip is an example of Chytil taking advantage of the situation at hand and executing perfectly.
We believe that Chytil can eventually become a 25 goal, 55 to 60 point second line center in the future. However, if this is to happen I believe he would need more ice time to hone his skills. Third line minutes isn't enough for him in my opinion. Once next season begins, I hope the Rangers experiment with Chytil on the second line a lot more to see what he can do. Remember he needs an extended look to justify whether or not he is ready for second line minutes; a few extra shifts at the end of a game won't cut it, for me at least. In the future, I would like to see more of these skills from Chytil and I believe he will eventually become a solid player for the Rangers.