The great news starting out this new year is that the Rangers are sitting on a solid 24-12-7 record with a 6-2-2- posting in the last ten games including a modest two-game winning streak. Moving into third place in the highly competitive Metro Division is a solid sign that the Blueshirts are finally marching forward instead of backwards (think of their performances back in November.)
The Rangers are looking towards a youth movement for more help.
Let’s be honest with ourselves – the Rangers just need to find a way to consistenly win each night and keep those winning ways alive through the second half of the season. With the annual All-Star game approaching in a couple of weeks, every game and every point available becomes critical to whether a team will be in the Stanley Cup playoffs or not. The Rangers need to keep making roster moves until they get things right. As the New York Post’s Larry Brooks pointed out, head coach Gerard Gallant’s primary job is to get the Rangers in the playoffs regardless of player development. If you bring along some of your younger players, that’s great but at this point it’s about the team as a whole and not developing single players as a primary objective.
That being said, the Rangers have found a couple of gems in the rough with Filip Chytil and Braden Schneider. Chytil has played in 35 games and provided some offensive firepower with 12 goals and another ten assists to the Blueshirt offensive cause. Remember, Chytil scored the tying goal in the crazy 4-2 shootout win over the Wild this week to keep the Rangers’ winning streak alive. Chytil has found his place not only on a line with Alexis Lafreniere and Jimmy Vesey but has become versatile enough to move around to other line shifts as well.
With his 12th goal this season, Chytil is only two short of his all-time best. With the Rangers finally on a winning streak, it’s unlikely that Gerard Gallant will be too open to changing lines up again given the fact that the Rangers are winning. Even though Chytil has been in the NHL for five seasons, it’s easy to forget that he’s only 23 years old and has a lot of promise with the Rangers not only this season but down the road as well. Chytil was re-signed by the Rangers prior to the 2021-22 season and is set to become an RFA (restricted free agent) next year.
Another key component of the Rangers’ youth movement is defenseman Braden Schneider. To Blueshirt fans, Schneider just looks and plays like a tough blueline veteran but he’s only been in the NHL for a season. Schneider is your prototypical defenseman and being 6’2″ and 210 pounds certainly doesn’t hurt as well. While Schneider fits the defensive bill quite well, his offensive game is starting to develop too and with five goals and five more assists, this scoring dimension certainly changes the way that Gerard Gallant both looks and plans to utilize Schneider.
What hockey coach would ever ignore a big, stong blueliner who can also score some goals and set up assists? With defensive veterans such as Trouba and K’Andre Miller as mentors, Braden Schneider looks to make the most out of his sophomore season with the Rangers and develop into more of a full-time blueliner. The Rangers have Schneider signed through next season and keeping him around with his development trajection moving upwards seems to be a prudent investment into the future of this franchise.