The New York Rangers aren’t expected to have a strong 2018-19 campaign, but there are some players to be on the lookout for.
As the dog days of the NHL offseason continue and fans just cannot wait for training camp to start, the New York Rangers fan base are looking for something to look forward to.
Coming into next season, the expectation is for the Blueshirts to not be competitive. To be a team at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference. A team that is young and will experience plenty of growing pains with newly hired David Quinn behind the bench.
Despite all of those expectations, there are three players that fans should be excited about entering next season. Players who have the chance to take the next step in their careers and become players that can carry a team.
Filip Chytil being a player to pay close attention to might fall under the category of a no-brainer, but you cannot help but get excited over him.
Chytil cracked the Rangers roster out of training camp but only lasted two games before being sent down to the Hartford Wolf Pack. Down in Hartford, he played like a man amongst boys, and that’s saying something considering him being 18-years-old.
In Hartford, he scored 31 points in 46 games. He also scored 26 points in 48 games for the Czech Republic in different tournaments. Those numbers allowed Chytil a chance to return to the NHL roster the final few weeks of the regular season.
One thing that was pretty obvious when watching Chytil’s game is that he has the ability to be a high quality flashy offensive player in the NHL. With the Rangers going through this rebuilding phase, Chytil should be given a chance to continue to grow at the NHL level.
Chytil’s flashiness and offensive ability create buzz about his potential, compared to Lias Andersson’s all-around quiet game.
There was a significant amount of expectations surrounding Brady Skjei entering the 2017-18 season. Those expectations resulted in Skjei having a letdown year, failing to follow his impressive rookie campaign.
Now with two full years of NHL experience under his belt, Skjei is destined to have a big year in 2018-19. He has shown that he has all of the tools to be an NHL defenseman.
The clip above shows how exciting Skjei can be. He has flashes defensively and still shows that he can be the offensive player he was in 2017-18. The trick for Skjei is to put it all together.
Skeji will be given a bigger role in 2018-19 with the current construction of the Rangers defense. As of now, he looks to be in the Rangers top-two behind Marc Staal and Kevin Shattenkirk and will be back to seeing time on the Blueshirts’ power play full-time.
With added responsibility, Skjei looks to have a big year and fans should be excited.
Saying Chris Kreider as a player to look out for feels like something we say every year, but this year is different.
A blood clot forced Kreider to miss a significant amount of time in 2017-18, but that might have been a blessing in hindsight.
Kreider looked to be a quicker, stronger player after returning from the injury. The type of player that the Rangers had been hoping would put it all together for the last two years. He finished last year 16 goals and 21 assists, not the numbers you’d want from him, but considering the circumstances they were perfect.
Like so many other players on this Rangers roster, Kreider will be given a bigger role in 2018-19. The difference this time is that Kreider has to be the force the Rangers know he can be. Under the tutelage of David Quinn next season, Kreider has the chance to get there.
These three players all have one thing in common, they are still young and have plenty of upside. That’s what makes it so easy to get excited about them, the thing is that you have to continue to show patience.
Not expecting the best right away allows us to get excited about Chytil, Skeji, and Kreider. Perhaps this year will be the last year we have to keep saying they have to take the next step.