Over the past couple of seasons, the New York Rangers’ focus has been on a rebuild and youth movement, and more eyes than ever have fallen onto the team’s recent top draft picks. One of these young men is Filip Chytil.
After playing on several youth world teams for his native Czech Republic, Chytil was drafted 21st overall by the Rangers in the 2017 Draft. Picking Chytil so early surprised some, but the Rangers were confident in the role he could play on the team. Though he started 2017-18 with the NHL club, he spent most of that season with the Hartford Wolf Pack.
After 31 points in 46 games down in the AHL, Chytil was recalled to New York for the end of 2017-18, scoring his first goal during the remaining nine games of the season. Entering 2018-19, first-year head coach David Quinn aimed to make sure young players like Chytil could produce right away while adjusting to the league.
Chytil’s final numbers may not blow most away statistically, however, his play throughout the season show there’s a bright future for this young man.
Chytil’s Final Statistics
Chytil finished the 2018-19 season with 23 points — 11 goals and 12 assists — in 75 games played. For what it’s worth, that’s a better ratio of points-to-games played than he had for PSG Zlin during 2016-17, when he put up just eight (four goals and four assists) in 38 games played. And those numbers in the Czech league were all second-most by a teen for that season.
Chytil struggled to find his fit early on, disappointing many and bringing about calls for him to go back to Hartford — which also would have extended his rookie contract. The Rangers kept their faith, however, and in November, Chytil ended up producing a big five-game goal streak — becoming the first teen in Rangers history (20th in NHL history and seventh in the league since 2005-06) to accomplish such a feat.
Chytil was also aggressive going after the net over the span of 2018-19, finishing fifth on the team in shots with 133. Of course, that shot total doesn’t compare to someone like center Mika Zibanejad or wing Chris Kreider, but Chytil also spent time attempting to set his teammates up for shots.
On that note, Chytil had some stints of increased ice time, something Quinn hoped to do from early on in the season. This meant spending time at wing, which was a bit of a necessary sacrifice considering the team had plenty of centers. More ice time translated into more experience and while it didn’t result in a whole lot of offensive production (his Corsi percentage was just 46.5 percent), he showed he could hang with some of the top Blueshirts.
Chytil’s biggest struggle, however, was his defensive work. He finished at minus-22, the worst on the team in the plus/minus category. Although the number of giveaways he had was not as much as other youth like Tony DeAngelo or Brady Skjei, he does need to improve on helping his team prevent goals against them.
The 2018-19 season was one of learning and growth for several members of the Rangers, Chytil included. While he disappeared in terms of production for some periods of time, he showed flashes of the product he can ultimately end up being. While it wasn’t the greatest season statistically, it should be noted Chytil ended his first full season in the NHL with numbers along the lines of Tyler Seguin, Ryan Johansen, Ryan O’Reilly and Sean Couturier.
Entering the 2017 draft, Chytil’s profile described him as having speed and potentially dangerous with the puck when he’s open. That’s exactly the kind of player Quinn likes and why he seems to be pushing for as much playing time as possible for Chytil — especially with Kreider’s future in New York being uncertain.
Chytil can use his skill with the puck and combine it with some good awareness to pull off some incredible plays. This is helped by his aggressiveness for the net. For instance, check out this play from the team’s March 3 game against the Washington Capitals — Chytil, near the net, gets knocked down but still manages to pull a no-look pass to Pavel Buchnevich for the score.
Then there’s Chytil’s quickness that’s worth mentioning. Despite his defensive struggles mentioned earlier, Chytil started just over half his time in the defensive zone. And more than once this season, Chytil was able to bring the puck up from one end and turn it into a score. Just look at what he did in a January game against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Final Grade: B
For some fans, with the team still in a rebuild, it may have been tough to watch the Rangers last season. With a first-year head coach and plenty of youngbloods, there was a lot of learning to do — learning to gel together as a team, learning how to play up to some of the best hockey talents in the world, learning the grind of the NHL schedule.
There were still plenty of bright spots to go around, and that includes Chytil’s performances during the season. He may have struggled to find his fit early on, but when he got hot, he could produce. Things weren’t perfect, but this was just his first full NHL season, but at 19 years old, there’s plenty of time to improve.
And if there’s one thing to give him support, it is that fact: he’s just 19 (soon to be 20). Being a rookie in the NHL is already a challenge, but to go 4,000 miles from his country to one of the biggest cities and markets in the world as a first-round draft pick on a rebuilding, popular team — for all that, hats off to him.
If Chytil continues to develop and perform well, his numbers will surely improve and he can be an important part of the team for the future.