Filip Chytil, New York Rangers
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Filip Chytil has been a breath of fresh air after being drafted 21st overall by the New York Rangers in last season’s draft. The kid has shown serious promise, but how good can he actually be? 

Filip Chytil initially made a very positive impact on New York Rangers management and the coaching staff at the end of training camp and earned himself a two-game stint early in the season.

He made his debut in the top-six forwards skating alongside Rick Nash, but the coaching staff quickly lost their trust in the player and Chytil’s ice time was diminished and he was sent down to the American Hockey League.

Chytil was sent down to continue to develop his complete 200-foot game, which as a center, is most definitely important. Chytil seemed to flourish at that level, on the whole recording 31 points in 45 games, while missing time to play in the World Junior Championships in Buffalo.

It was there Chytil seemed to underwhelm recording four points in seven games. Chytil tallied all of his points in the first two games. Called out by his own coach at the tournament, Chytil did not display much consistency and on a high powered offensive team, he did not drive offense like he was expected too.

But, there is a silver lining to all of this. The first, he is young. Crazy young. He was ten days away from being eligible for this upcoming seasons draft. He was one of the youngest players at the World Junior tournament. He was the youngest player in the AHL this season. The things he is achieving at the levels given his age are extremely impressive.

Part two of the silver lining, Chytil is in a whirlwind of a situation for an 18-year-old. Could you imagine moving across the Atlantic Ocean from your small European hometown, living in Hartford, CT or New York City, on your own? That has to be an incredible lifestyle and culture shock.

Keith McCambridge, Hartford’s head coach, weighed in on the situation early in the season during a discussion with the Hartford Courant‘s John Altavilla.

“When you look at the young player like Filip coming in, it’s a lot to take in, you live by yourself and as the season progresses you have bills to pay, different things to manage that you don’t have to deal with when you live at home. But the leadership group we have in our locker room has tried to help him by showing him the proper way to act, prepare for practice. But from a coaching perspective, seeing him play, you can just see the skill level come through. …I see a young man who has been positive and upbeat and focused on learning more every day.”

It is quite impressive that Chytil is proving himself at all levels and now, the NHL level during this most recent stint. He scored his first NHL goal recently against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The thing that bounces off of Chytil right away is his skill. He has a very high level of skill and it’s easy to see and he appears to have a high motor. His feet are always moving and he’s always around the play.

The difference at this point between Chytil and the team’s other 2017 first-round pick, Lias Andersson, is his skating ability. He has a stronger first few strides than Andersson that allows him to reach top speed with long strides quicker. Chytil also plays a much more “skilled” game than Andersson. That doesn’t make him a better player, just different.

Filip Chytil is going to be a top-six scoring center in this league. It could be as early as next season. He has elite vision, he has the skating ability that we touched on, and has a good nose and hands around the net. Chytil needs to add weight ad muscle to his frame, to allow him to be more lethal below the goal line, and protect the puck better but a summer of help from trainers and push from the New York Rangers will help him.

The key to this whole situation will be if Chytil can mesh will with whatever coaching staff is leading this club next season. Alain Vigneault has given Chytil more trust towards the end of the season and Chytil seems to be running well with it. But a younger coach who has a more development background could be the key.

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