To say that’s it’s been a roller coast season for the New York Rangers might be the understatement of the century. Heading into the 2017-18 campaign, the Rangers were thought to be one of the strongest contenders in the NHL’s Eastern Conference, especially considering some of the offseason moves they made.
Rangers management made it clear prior to the deadline, and elected to tear things down and rebuild from the ground up as general manager Jeff Gorton and president Glen Sather issued a letter to the team’s fanbase, warning them to brace for change. They have surely loaded up on prospects and picks, and now it looks like an immediate change is being made.
And not because of trades... As you know, the Rangers were huge sellers at the deadline, where captain Ryan McDonagh was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning, who also acquired forward J.T. Miller. The Lightning sent Vladislav Namestnikov, a 2018 first-round pick, a conditional second-round pick in 2019, defensive prospect Libor Hajek forward prospectBrett Howden. The conditional second-round pick becomes a first-rounder if the Lightning win the Stanley Cup in either 2018 or 2019. And let's not forget that veteran Rick Nash was moved to the Boston Bruins in return for a 2018 first-rounder, forwards Ryan Spooner and Matt Beleskey, defenseman Ryan Lindgren plus a seventh-round pick in 2019.The Rangers sent Michael Grabner to the New Jersey Devils for a 2018 second-round pick and prospect Yegor Rykov.
Back to the immediate change!
Head coach Alain Vigneault said Tuesday morning the Rangers are working on a plan for 2017 first-round picks Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil to be called up from AHL Hartford and play.
Asked if it's possible Andersson plays Thursday in Philadelphia, Vigneault answered "yes." The Rangers are facing off against the Philadelphia Flyers tomorrow night.
Andersson and Chytil can play nine and seven NHL games, respectively, without burning the first year of their three-year entry level contracts. Chytil broke camp with the Rangers and played twice before being sent down to Hartford. They are both young centres that could give the Rangers the offensive boost they need, and also show the fanbase what is in store for the next season.
"(Tuesday's) Game 10. So Game 9, then Filip's got seven, so I would say there's a very good chance we're gonna see both those kids up real soon," Vigneault said.
Chytil, the No. 21 pick, has recorded 31 points in 44 AHL games, while Andersson, the No. 7 pick, has tallied a total of 14 points in 23 AHL games and 12 points in his last 18 games. He is surely on a roll.
Considering the Rangers didn't pick in the first round from 2013 to 2016, the addition of Chytil and Andersson, plus the chance of landing another high first round pick this summer, give New York a chance to restock their prospect pool with high-end players who could be difference-makers quickly.
How quickly? Well, we will get a better idea of Thursday night it seems...
Photo Credit: Zuma Press