When the New York Rangers drafted forward Chris Kreider 19th overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, pundits and analysts knew the potential was there, but the main question overshadowing the young soon-to-be phenom was “Could he live up to the hype?” Kreider won two NCAA titles with Boston College, and tallied 45 points in his final season with the school.
In 2012 during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Kreider was thrown into the midst of a seven-game series versus the Ottawa Senators in the first round. He made an immediate impact and was a driving force during the Rangers’ run to the Eastern Conference Final. Kreider had five goals and two assists in 18 games played during the playoffs.
In the shortened season of 2012-13, with New York still under the regime of John Tortorella, Kreider was never given a shot with the big club, even though people within the organization believed he could provide scoring depth and flair to his team. Tortorella declined, and left the forward in the minors with the Connecticut Whale, the Rangers’ AHL affiliate at that time. With the Whale, Kreider had 23 points in 48 games played.
Shortly after the Rangers were knocked out of the 2013 Playoffs by the Boston Bruins, Tortorella was dismissed of his coaching duties and the front office went on the hunt for a new head coach. They brought in the likes of Alain Vigneault, who’s system is tailored toward offensive players and is known to be more free and flowing than that of Tortorella’s.
So far this season, New York has experienced many ups and downs, but throughout the past couple of days and weeks, they seem to have hit their stride, and are finally playing consistent, smart, and solid hockey. They are 8-2-1 in their last 11 games.
That is partially due to the play of Kreider, who has finally been given a true shot in the NHL and has been taken under Vigneault’s wing. In 40 games played this season, the winger has 12 goals and 15 assists, adding up to 27 points. Currently, he has sole possession of second place in the NHL’s Calder Trophy race, which is awarded to the winger who tallies the most points in the regular season. Kreider is two points shy of Nathan MacKinnon in Colorado.
Kreider has proven to be a great forward and the coaching staff is utilizing his potential to the fullest. This season we have seen Chris use his explosive speed down the wing, exploiting opposing defenses and giving them a run for the money, and he is also scoring goals in the process.
If Kreider can keep going at this pace, he will be a sure-fire candidate for the Calder, and he will, if not already, engrave his name into the hearts of Ranger fans across the globe.