Ramblings: Updates on Bertuzzi, Vrana, and Schmaltz; Zibanejad and Panarin Keep Rolling; Ekblad Injury; Kadri – October 18

Michael Clifford

2022-10-18

We are through the first week of the NHL season, at least with all the teams playing and not just the teams that made the trip to Europe. As such, I just want to give a handful of first-week observations from around the league. It is still far too early to make determinations about any team, line, or player, but there are specific teams, lines, and players we should follow for the next few weeks to see if they can keep up what they've been doing.  

Rangers' Kid Line

Though Alexis Lafrenière, Filip Chytil, and Kaapo Kakko haven't been playing together this season, they are all standing out individually. Going into Monday night's action, Lafrenière had managed a monster 13 shots in three games, skating over 17 minutes a night. Though he hasn't scored yet, he leads the Rangers in individual expected goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5 by a mile, ranking second in the league among all forwards. His huge jump in shot rate is what we want to see from the former number-1 pick and more of this could easily lead to an excellent fantasy season.

Chytil has done wonderful work on the third line with a rotating cast of wingers, even if he's not being tasked with much heavy lifting. He has just one point (a goal) in his three games and it's fair to wonder how much production upside he has if both Lafrenière and Kakko are in the top-6. It just doesn't leave much for Chytil to play with but as long as he keeps up his solid two-way play, at least they won't have a third line that sinks them.

To me, it's Kakko that has been the revelation. He seemed to play well in his own end last year but just could not generate a lot offensively. That has not been the case this season as he's been a standout on the top line alongside Mika Zibanejad. It seems every game the Rangers play, Kakko makes a play that makes you sit up in your seat in wonder. His confidence with the puck seems to have grown by leaps and bounds and it's nice to see the 2nd overall pick from 2019 look like he's starting to find his gam