Filip Chytil #72 of the Rangers celebrates his first period goal...

Filip Chytil #72 of the Rangers celebrates his first period goal against the Vancouver Canucks at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023. Credit: Jim McIsaac

NEWARK, N.J. — Filip Chytil wasn’t caught totally by surprise, of course. He knew his agent had been talking to the Rangers all season, and he knew there was a chance the two sides would reach a contract agreement before the season was over, before he ever got a chance to become a restricted free agent.

But the timing of the announcement of the deal came out of the blue. He had practiced Wednesday morning, and then when the team traveled to New Jersey for Thursday’s game against the Devils, he got a call saying it was done.

“It means a lot,’’ Chytil, 23, said at the Rangers’ optional morning skate of his agreeing to a four-year deal that will pay him an average annual salary of $4.4375 million. “I'll be honest, I didn't think about it too much this season. I just was focusing on my game. And it just came yesterday, and I'm very happy that it's done.’’

“Well deserved,’’ Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said when asked about Chytil’s new deal. “He did a great job. He's had an outstanding year, and the two years that I've been here he's gotten better every game. So we're really happy with him.’’

Chytil entered Thursday’s game as the Rangers’ fourth-leading goal-scorer (22), behind only Mika Zibanejad (38), Chris Kreider (32) and Artemi Panarin (25). And after breaking an 18-game goal drought March 19 against Nashville, Chytil had three goals in five games entering Thursday.

His goal and point totals (42) were already career highs, and according to Chytil, he doesn’t intend to stop there.

“I know what kind of player I can be, and I see how much progress I make every year,’’ he said. “So for me, nothing changes. Keep doing same things: Keep working hard and just make myself better.’’

“I'm thrilled for Fil,’’ defenseman K’Andre Miller said. “He's put in in a ton of work, on the ice, off the ice, after practice, before practice. I think that's a great contract for him. I mean he's put in the work and he deserved it.’’

Miller, 23, could be the next young Ranger to sign a new deal. He, and forward Alexis Lafrenière, 21, Chytil’s linemate on the Kid Line, are both scheduled to be restricted free agents this summer. And now that Chytil is signed, those two figure to be next on general manager Chris Drury’s to-do list.

After signing Chytil, the Blueshirts are projected to be $12.37 million under the $83.5 million salary cap going into next season, with Miller, Lafrenière, a backup goaltender (current backup Jaroslav Halak is on a one-year deal) and four more forwards and one more defenseman to sign.

But getting Chytil locked up, and at a relatively team-friendly number, was a good first step by Drury. With Chytil back in his third-line role, behind Zibanejad and Vincent Trocheck, the Rangers are strong and deep at the center position.

“You're always trying to build your team, [beginning with] goaltending, down the middle,’’ Gallant said. “They're all good hockey players, talented hockey players, and there's no doubt that we’re set up pretty good down the road.’’

They’ll be even better if Chytil continues to grow the way he has in his first five seasons, since being the second of two first-round draft picks (No. 21 overall) in 2017. After getting 11 goals and 23 points in his rookie season of 2018-19, he got 14 and 23 in 60 games the next season, then had eight and 22 in each of the last two seasons.

“I'm making progress since the first year,’’ Chytil said. “I know the production wasn't there that much the first years, but this year, finally, it's coming along with my game. And that's what I'm saying all the time, it's about ‘process,’ and about the hard work that I'm putting in. And I’m happy that I can see it, hard work pays off.

“And it's not finished,’’ he said. “It's just started for me.’’

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