There are many different things that are necessary for a team to be successful in the National Hockey League. And The New York Rangers check all of the boxes. They have the best goaltender in the league, elite goal scorers, one of the best coaches in the world, and outstanding defensemen up and down the lineup. But perhaps the most important attribute that got them to the Eastern Conference Finals last year was their depth of scoring. In particular, the emergence of the “Kid Line”. A New York Rangers season in 2022-23 could see a breakout year for the young line.
New York Rangers Season Brings Promise
The Kid Line Came Through When It Counted
The third line for the Rangers in last year’s playoffs was made up of Filip Chytil, Alexis Lafrenière, and Kaapo Kakko. Each of them was a first-round pick and was under the age of 22, hence the nickname. But the “Kid Line” grew up quickly in the playoffs, scoring timely goals and clicking well together. They racked up 23 points, lead by seven goals from Chytil and were a huge reason why the Rangers made it out of the first round against the Pittsburgh Penguins. As the former Ranger, Mike Rupp said, “You want me to tell you how good your team is? Show me your third line.”
Why Keeping Them Together Makes Sense
It is likely that Rangers Head Coach Gerard Gallant will keep the trio together to start the season. Frankly, it would be a bit wild if he didn’t. And there are multiple reasons to expect them to play even better together in 2022-23 New York Rangers season.
First off, they have begun to develop chemistry together. Hockey is a fast and fluid game that takes time to learn the little differences in an individual’s style of play. Every player has their own unique tendencies and preferences that are only understood with time and repetition.
Another reason is simply that they are gaining another year of experience and confidence. The Kid Line may still be very young, but they all now have at least two years under their belts in the NHL. That experience, including the production in last year’s playoff run, will instill a lot of confidence. They are no longer the youngest at training camp and are beginning to become leaders themselves. The next wave of young Rangers are looking to them for guidance.
Thursday Night Against The Devils
In Thursday’s preseason matchup with the New Jersey Devils, the Kid Line played together. It was obvious that the confidence had boiled over from last year as they created chance after chance all night long. Unfortunately, it didn’t show up on the stat sheet.
It was Lafrenière that notched the only point as he scored on the penalty kill. Surprisingly, it was the Rangers second shorthanded goal of the night and the only two goals for the Blueshirts in the game. The Rangers fell to the Devils five-to-two. But they didn’t have to wait too long for a chance for revenge as they beat the New Jersey the very next night two-to-one and dominated the gameplay.
Pressure On The Shoulders Of The Kids
Unfortunately, there is some weight added to the shoulders of a first-round pick in New York. For Lafrenière, this is especially true being that he was selected with the number one overall pick. In the world of sports, it is natural to compare different players, especially in regard to where they were drafted. And the honour of going with the first selection of the draft means you will be compared to the greats that have come before. In recent memory that includes players like Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, and Auston Matthews.
For Kakko, it isn’t much different. Kakko was drafted just a year before Lafrenière with the second overall pick. And until recently, he has struggled. Over the off-season, Kakko signed a two-year $4.2 million dollar contract to stay with the Rangers. Meanwhile, he watched Jack Hughes, the player who went one pick before him sign a fully guaranteed, 8-year, $64 million dollar deal.
And for Chytil, it is now or never. He has been with the Rangers since he was 18 years old and is entering his sixth season. It is the final year on his contract and he will prove his worth to not only the Rangers, but everyone around the league this year.
But as they say, pressure makes diamonds. And it seems as though The Kid Line is on the brink of a breakout season. They have shown that they can do it in the post-season, but it is time to put together a full year of production. It is time to live up to their potential and take this Rangers team to new heights.
Kakko, from Fox and Chytil.
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