Rangers: 3 breakout candidates for the 2023 season

new york rangers, kaapo kakko, rangers, nyr
May 9, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Rangers right wing Kaapo Kakko (24) skates with the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period in game four of the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG Paints Arena. The Penguins won 7-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers have a handful of young players looking to make their mark on the organization in years to come. Veteran players such as Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad have fully developed and shown fans what they can offer, but other players are still preparing to take that next step. Here are three young Rangers ready to have a breakout season.

Kaapo Kakko is ready for the top six

After being drafted second overall in 2019, Kaapo Kakko has been somewhat slow in his development. Throughout four career seasons, the winger has only played in 239 games and tallied just 98 points. His stats are often compared to those of New Jersey’s Jack Hughes, who was drafted first overall in the same year and has already established himself as an NHL superstar.

The difference with Kakko is that he hasn’t been given the chance to truly break out yet. Playing under head coach David Quinn early in his career, the second-overall pick was trapped down on the fourth line for most of his first season. It was only under Gerard Gallant that he began to receive more ice time, but that still primarily came in the form of third-line minutes.

This upcoming season, Kakko is likely going to have a steady position up in the top six playing alongside Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad. This will set the stage for Kakko to play alongside other talented stars and really show the Rangers what he can bring to the table.

Filip Chytil to swap with Trocheck?

Last offseason, the Rangers signed Vincent Trocheck to a massive seven-year deal. At the time, it seemed as if the team had found a long-term second-line center to play behind Zibanejad. Throughout the 2022-2023 season, however, Filip Chytil showed major signs of growth and development that could land him that second-line position soon.

Last season, Chytil tallied 45 points, almost double that of his previous career high of 23. Trocheck did perform better with a point total of 64, but it won’t be long before Chytil surpasses those numbers as he fully develops into his prime. Trocheck will more than likely start off the season remaining as the 2C, but it is possible that Chytil may play some games in that position as well. That opportunity will allow Chytil to play next to Panarin and boost his game to an elite level.

Could the Rangers call up Brennan Othmann to the regular season roster?

While he hasn’t been given the chance to play in the NHL just yet, Rangers prospect Brennan Othmann may get that opportunity this upcoming season. He impressed the organization throughout last year’s training camp and preseason, but there simply wasn’t any room to fit him on the opening night roster. Plus, due to certain rules regarding his age and AHL call-up restrictions, it would have been too much of a risk to have him up in the big leagues.

“My goal is to try and make the team this year. It’s a good organization with a lot of good players, nothing much has changed. It’s going to be hard.”

Brennan Othmann at training camp

If Othmann continues to impress this offseason, it is very possible that he can have a chance to shine in the NHL this year. He is a very talented young forward who has shown a lot of potential since being drafted by the Rangers. He probably won’t enter the league and be an instant star, but he is the type of player who will be able to make an immediate impact on an already flourishing Rangers team. A third-line role may be all Othmann needs to make his case for a steady NHL position.

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