Rangers Need Tweaks Down the Middle

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 27: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen #1 of the Buffalo Sabres makes the third period save on Filip Chytil #72 of the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on April 27, 2021 in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Sabres 3-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

There has been a lot of talk this year of the Rangers needing to add a center to their group. While that opinion is not wrong, the names that have been thrown out can be argued.

Many Rangers fans have been clamoring for the organization to go out and trade for either Jack Eichel or even Aleksander Barkov. While I wouldn’t be mad at a Barkov acquisition the price to trade for him would be mighty high and then if you wait for him to hit free agency you always have to be wary of the potential of a bidding war. Even though the Rangers can crush most teams with their wallet, it wouldn’t be in the clubs best interest to go out and get into a bidding war for a player. All you have to do is look at the last time that happened with Brad Richards and how that contract ultimately ended. While Barkov is younger than what Richards was when the Rangers tabbed him to end their bid for a bonafide 1C it would complicate the team being able to pay their young cornerstone players in the future.

If the Rangers are going to look to make a move at the center position this offseason it should be to add a potential 3rd line upgrade. While I really like Filip Chytil’s game we have yet to see him take the next step offensively and his defense just is not at the level it needs to be at the NHL level. We all love the potential we see from Chytil offensively but he is leaving me wanting more from his game unfortunately. While he can create chances offensively we don’t see him finish off those chances on a consistent enough of a basis and we routinely will see his line get hemmed into their own zone while he is on the ice.

I think Chytil’s game is better suited for a winger as an NHL player than a center and I wouldn’t be opposed to see the Blueshirts bring in a better two way center and bump Chytil over to the wing spot on the third line. Bringing in a player like Andrew Copp or Alex Wennberg and moving Chytil to the wing could be a potential move that will allow this team to upgrade their center ice position while not overpaying via trade or free agency to do it. The problem with this kind of move is that it will further complicate the logjam along the wings.

With Mika Zibanejad and Ryan Strome as your top two centers that is certainly good enough to go to battle with moving forward even with their deficiencies at winning draws. While this fanbase has a love/hate relationship with Strome there is no denying that he has found his game since becoming a Ranger and he has earned his spot to stay as this team’s second line center. To be fair, you could do a hell of a lot worse as a second line center than Ryan Strome.

On the Mika Zibanejad front he has turned himself into a legitimate first line center since becoming a Ranger and re-signing Zibanejad to a potential 45-50M dollar deal over 5-6 years is a better investment than a trade for Jack Eichel. While Eichel is a highly talented player this disk issue in his neck is something that Rangers fans should be wary of, not to mention the price tag of his contract and the cost of what it would take to get him.

If the Rangers re-sign 93, keep moving forward with Strome and shift Chytil to the wing and upgrade their 3C spot then this team will be closer to contending than they are right now. This roster really just needs some fine tuning around the edges than it does a major face lift of acquiring big name talent. The crux of this roster is ready to be extremely and extremely good for many years it’s all about rounding out the edges for the New York Rangers. There is just going to be a few moves that need to be made to solidify the roster especially down the middle.

Embed from Getty Images


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here