Rangers: Why this veteran forward could disappoint in 2023

New York Rangers center Vincent Trocheck (16) during the first period against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden

The New York Rangers have become an older and more experienced team this offseason. Having a strong veteran presence is essential to finding success late in the season, but teams must also be careful to ensure their players are not too old to consistently contribute on the ice. One player who was key to the Rangers’ success last year was Vincent Trocheck. After a stellar first season with the Blueshirts, however, there may be somewhat of a regression in 2023.

Rangers’ defensive liabilities could bring Trocheck down

Projected to start the 2023-2024 season on the second line, Trocheck will likely be centering Artemi Panarin and Blake Wheeler. While both Panarin and Wheeler have the ability to put on elite offensive showings, neither player has much to contribute defensively. In just the 2023 season alone, Panarin managed to give the puck away over 100 times.

After scoring 64 points in a full 82-game season, it’s hard to tell if Trocheck will improve his numbers or regress due to his linemates. The second line has the potential to produce high numbers, but the opposing team will also generate a lot of puck possession when playing against a defensively weak Rangers line. It wouldn’t be surprising if Trocheck’s +3 rating significantly decreased in the minus realm.

It’s also important to note that every member of the Rangers’ second line is now officially at least 30 years old. Within the coming years, each player’s stats will begin to face the test of time. It’s not likely that Trocheck will fall victim to old age just yet, but there may be flashes of regression throughout this upcoming season.

Trocheck may spend significant time in the bottom six

The Rangers’ new head coach Peter Laviolette has been vocal about his plans to give the younger players time to excel in top six roles. With Kaapo Kakko moving up to the first line and Alexis Lafreniere potentially moving up as well, that leaves Filip Chytil alone as the third-line center.

It’s possible that Chytil could also move up into a top-six role, but that would mean Trocheck would be demoted down into the bottom-six group. Moving one line down may not seem like the biggest change, but Trocheck’s time on ice would significantly decrease. Less playing time means fewer opportunities to score, and his stats may take a pretty large hit.

Moving down to the third line would also put Trocheck next to new players who he has very little chemistry with. Panarin and Wheeler may be defensive liabilities, but at least Trocheck and Panarin had a full season of playing together to find some sort of groove. It’ll take some time for Trocheck to build new chemistry on a different line, especially if he and Chytil are being switched around all season long.

“A big question coming into Trocheck’s first year as a Blueshirt was his chemistry, or lack thereof, with star winger Artemi Panarin who had previously connected well with now Anaheim Duck center Ryan Strome.”

via Forever Blueshirts

Hopefully, Trocheck will be able to replicate a stellar first season with the Rangers and succeed in year two of his long-term contract. As a player alone he has shown little signs of regression, but a new environment could have an effect on his numbers.

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