As reported by various media outlets yesterday, New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider will be out of tonight’s game with an injured hand. Also, he will be out of the lineup for indefintely. Kreider left in the 3rd period of Monday night’s game against the Phoenix Coyotes. Unfortunately, there is no further word from the Rangers organization.
This season has been a coming out party for Kreider. After being misused by previous head coach John Tortorella and spending time with the Hartford Wolf Pack last season, he was finally given a chance under now head coach Alain Vigneault. Through 66 games played, Kreider has 17 goals and 37 points with a +14 goal differential. Unfortunately, he has hit a wall of sorts having only two points in his last five games. It has been his intangibles that have made him a favorite among fans. His speed is comparable to teammate Carl Hagelin. His aggressiveness on the forecheck and relentless pursuit of the puck have made him a favorite in Vigneault’s offensive system. Vigneault has enough confidence in Kreider to pencil him in on the top line with Derek Stepan and Rick Nash.
So how do the Rangers replace him? There are a couple of options. One, the team may call up a youngster from Hartford. All fingers point towards J.T. Miller. The Rangers first round pick in 2011 was already reported to be an emergency call up with Stepan and Mats Zuccarello enduring the flu bug. He has already played 28 games for the Rangers and has registered three goals and six points this season. According to the Hartford Wolf Pack website, he is better than a point per game forward. Through 35 games, Miller has registered 12 goals and 37 points with a +13 differential. He ranks second on the team in scoring. But the remarkable thing is, Miller has amassed his offensive totals in fewer games than the team’s point leader, Oscar Lindberg, who has 40 points thru 65 games. Based on this, Miller is the obvious option for the Rangers.
Another option may lie in their present roster. A possible scenario would be to insert Daniel Carcillo and Derek Dorsett into the lineup. Both have been rotating in and out of the lineup on the 4th line. It is quite possible both players may see action in the same game; especially with the Philadelphia Flyers coming into town. They will surely inject energy, grittiness, and aggressiveness into the lineup. If Vigneault leaves the lines as they are, the NHL début of the recently signed Ryan Haggerty would be a possibility. On March 12th, general manager Glen Sather and the 21-year-old forward agreed to a contract, much like that of Kreider’s signing late in the 2011-2012 season. Kreider will remain with the Rangers team and is eligible for the playoffs when healed. Haggerty can play until the playoffs then is not eligible for post season ice time.
Kreider’s absence will be missed. We all wanted to see his playoff magic that made him a household name in 2012. Unfortunately, that will have to wait. These are the times when players must step up. Opportunities are available for others to take advantage.
[Editorial Note: Jt Miller was called up from the minor league but no line-up information has been released at this point.]