Welcome to the latest series here at Last Word on Hockey. Each day, we will take a look at a new team and examine three of their potential breakout or bounce-back players. What are these? These are players that have the chance to make a serious difference with their teams. Whether that’s as someone who finally finds their place in the NHL, or as someone who had previously been good but has struggled as of recently. Each day we will be looking at a different team! However, today we will take a look at the potential 2020-21 New York Rangers key players.
2020-21 New York Rangers Candidates
Chytil is a quick two-way forward, who is most dangerous in open space with the puck. The young Czech national struggled to find a place within the Rangers initially. In February 2019, Chytil’s career looked concerning when Coach David Quinn threatened to bench the then inconsistent forward indefinitely. However, during the 2019-20 season, Chytil began to settle and find good chemistry with the newer, younger rebuilding team. Although COVID-19 has disrupted hockey as we know it, Chytil was on target to achieve a career-best season with a solid 60 games played, amounting to 15 goals, with nine assists equaling 23 points.
He is a well-deserved candidate to breakout next season for the Rangers. The 21-year-old is more experienced and somewhat wiser and has also proved to be versatile playing on the wing and as a centre. It’s predicted Chytil will solidify a bottom-six spot commencing the 2020-21 season, most likely with Brett Howden and hard-hitting Brendan Lemieux who have demonstrated productive success this year already.
Lindgen provides extra strength and a hard work ethic to the Rangers organization. The Minnesota-born player is one to watch going into next season. During his solitary year in the NHL, the defencemen proved to work well with offensive defensemen Adam Fox. And although 60 games prove difficult for substantial stats, Lindgren provided security and reliability in the Rangers’ own blueline. This will be particularly important next season with relatively inexperienced goaltenders as a result of Henrik Lundqvist‘s buyout to the Washington Capitals. Although still young and with that deemed undisciplined at times with 47 penalty minutes, Lindgren has much to prove. He brings an added physicality and enthusiasm to the Rangers. This makes him a potential breakout candidate for the 2020-21 season.
The young forward is worthy of mention as he can be considered both a breakout and a potential bounce back player for the Rangers next season. The first-round pick had a vast amount of hype going into the NHL. But struggled with the increased pace and became hesitant to shoot the puck. Despite this, the 19-year-old’s play improved late in the season in 66 games. While in this time, he scores 10 goals, 13 assists for 23 points. Although it was not until the pos-tseason against Carolina Hurricanes that Kaapo Kakko showed the beginnings of his long-awaited potential. The Finnish forward is strong on the puck, particularly around and behind the net. During the post-season, he played 15:53 of ice time.
At present, too little data exists to determine if Kakko will earn his given breakout status. However, the confidence and hockey intelligence is there and it will continue to develop with experience. It is expected that Kakko will be in the top six going forward into the 2020-21 season.