Filip Chytil returning to Czechia to continue recovering from injury

With news breaking that Filip Chytil will be returning to Czechia to continue his recovery of a suspected head injury, the New York Rangers need a plan at the 3rd line center position until a more definite determination is made on Chytil

New York Rangers v Vancouver Canucks
New York Rangers v Vancouver Canucks / Derek Cain/GettyImages
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Sometimes hockey needs to take a back seat to the preservation of a long and healthy life. That is the case with New York Rangers center Filip Chytil, who suffered a supposed concussion on November 2nd when he collided with Carolina Hurricanes forward Jesper Fast.

The Rangers, who placed Chytil on LTIR retroactive to November 2nd, came to the decision with Chytil that it would be best for him to return home to Czechia to continue the recovery process, per Larry Brooks of the New York Post. According to Brooks, the Rangers will receive approximately $3.8 million in cap space off of Chytil’s $4.437 million cap hit, should the 24-year-old be unable to return in the regular season.

Ultimately, Chytil’s health needs to be kept at the forefront of any hockey decision. Allowing him to return home to be comforted by family and friends while he recovers is what’s best. With Chytil assuredly remaining out for an extended period of time, a resolution needs to be made with the 3rd center position. 

It appears as though Chytil may not even be back by the end of the regular season, and moving forward with Nick Bonino as the 3rd pivot is not ideal. Bonino is a strong defensive presence, but his 5 points in 33 games this season will not suffice to remain as the third-line center. Ideally, Bonino slots in on the fourth line, flanked by Barclay Goodrow and Jimmy Vesey.

The solution for third line pivot in Chytil’s absence is almost certainly not in-house. Adam Edstrom has played 1 game this season, and although he did find the back of the net against the Ducks on December 15, he doesn’t possess enough offensive upside to be the solution.

The Rangers don’t own any blue-chip center prospects within the organization that could be used as a more permanent option. Thus, the trade market will need to be the route taken for General Manager Chris Drury. Could the club make a bigger splash? 

If so, the name Elias Lindholm comes to mind. The Flames center is two years removed from a 42 goal season in 2021-22. This season, Lindholm, like many other members of the Flames cast, has underperformed a bit. Lindholm has posted 8 goals and 23 points in 35 games this season, while owning a manageable $4.85 millon cap hit. If the Rangers could get Calgary to retain half, Lindholm would slot nicely in as the third center. However, this would be a pure rental. Lindholm is 29 years old and is a pending unrestricted free agent (UFA).

The other pitfall of an otherwise solid strategy is the cost to acquire Lindholm could be very high. He is after all a 40-goal scorer, and the Flames have remained adamant about trying to re-sign their pending UFA. Being that the Rangers sit atop the Metro Division as the season nears the halfway mark, it would benefit the club to make an attempt at acquiring Lindholm.

As long as Chytil remains out of the lineup, the club must figure out a stopgap at the center position until they have a more definite answer on Chytil's status.