Chris Kreider has been a pleasant surprise this season, but are his stats enough to land him a spot as a candidate for the Calder Trophy? For those who are unaware, the Calder Trophy is a trophy awarded at the NHL award show to the NHL’s best rookie player during the regular season. Jonathan Huberdeau, of the Florida Panthers, was the winner of this memorable award last year and Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche, was the winner before him. Right now, Nathan MacKinnon leads all NHL rookies with 51 points in the form of 21 goals and 29 assists, but Kreider is up in the top five among rookies with 34 points from 16 goals and 18 assists.
If Kreider wants to be considered as a potential Calder Trophy candidate, he really needs to amp his game up for this final stretch of the regular season. With only four goals in his past 19 games, Kreider’s name has definitely fallen out of the rookie of the year talks, but lucky for him, he has 16 games to show everyone why he deserves to at least be a candidate for this award. It’s obvious from the Ranger’s standpoint that they want Kreider to be able to produce as well as he did earlier in the season, but there are a few more key pieces of Kreider’s game that needs some work. One bad habit that Kreider has caught onto is taking un-timely penalties, as he has 70 minutes worth of penalties so far this year which ranks him 53rd in the league in that category. It feels like almost every game, there’s a good chance you will see Kreider sitting in the penalty box. Aside from taking silly penalties, Kreider still needs to work on the defensive part of his game. It is not unusual to see a rookie struggling to add a defensive aspect to their game, but there have been plenty of goals against us where Kreider doesn’t cover his man or he doesn’t skate back to help defend an odd man rush.
I still believe that Chris Kreider has what it takes to be an all-star player in the NHL, but this year he is still learning the game and there is a lot he still needs to learn. Though last night he looked in top form. If he can keep that level of intensity and skill, without the silly penalties, he will be right back at the top of the list for “Rookie of the Year”.