In the playoffs last season, there was one line for the Rangers that stood out above the rest. One line that constantly provided the spark the team needed to win games and provided offense when they needed a goal. It was known as “The Kid Line”.
Consisting of Alexis Lafreniere, Filip Chytil, and Kaapo Kakko, this line was known as the kids because they were all formed first-round picks by the Rangers and were all 23 years old or younger. Now that they have been put back together, they are looking more like men and they are growing into better players before our eyes.
Let’s start with Lafreniere. He has had a rough go this season after showing the kind of player he could be in the playoffs. He has 6 goals and 22 points in 47 games played. He was even a healthy scratch for a game because Gerard Gallant was not pleased with his game. Many thought that he could reach the 20-goal mark after having 19 last season, but his slow progression has really turned the fans against Lafreniere.
Now that he has been reunited with Kakko and Chytil, he has looked like the player he was in the playoffs. He is giving more effort and is winning puck battles that he wasn’t winning before. These players all play a style that works with each other and they are all benefiting from playing with each other.
Kakko has been a consistent top-six player for the Rangers this season. He has played mostly with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider and has played well with them. He has 23 points in 48 games, which has tied his career high from his rookie season. He is going to set new highs in points, goals, and assists as the season goes along.
The game in Toronto was a great game for him and this kid line even though they lost in overtime. Kakko’s effort was marvelous and he set up Chytil for his second goal giving him an excellent pass. The Kid Line was buzzing all night and Kakko has benefited from doing backup with Chytil and Lafreniere.
Chytil has had a breakout season for the Rangers and is in a contract year, which will make it harder for the Rangers due to their cap struggles. He has scored a career-high 15 goals and has set a new high with 28 points in 40 games played. He would surely have more goals and points if he had not missed time with injury. Chytil has been a mainstay on the third line as the center and has played with a different combination of linemates all season.
The two he is most comfortable with are Kakko and Lafreniere. They always find a way to provide the team with a spark and when they play together, they are less likely to make plays that cost them a great scoring chance. They know how to find each other at the right times and can always be counted on to get the team going.
“The Kid Line” is starting to become a more mature line. They are growing into the players the Rangers thought they would when they drafted them. Although it has been a slow process with these young players, allowing them to play together has allowed their games to grow together. They are becoming better players and they are the future of the New York Rangers.