Chris Kreider celebrates after scoring a goal Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Kreider The New York Rangers "X-Factor" For The Coming Season

On July 23, 2014 Chris Kreider and the New York Rangers Management will go before an arbitrator to find middle ground with a “fair” salary for the young player on his first Standard Player Contract (SPC). He was previously on an Entry Level Contract (ELC) which began when he used a year of it by playing in the 11/12 playoffs in place of then suspended Carl Hagelin. Since those twelve playoff games that burned one season off his ELC, he was the yo-yo under John Tortarella during the lockout shortened 12/13 season. He had a weak showing in training camp under new head coach Alain Vigneault and was sent to the Hartford Wolfpack for six games before coming back to the New York Rangers to stay. It took some time for Alain Vigneault to find lines that worked but Chris Kreider ended up playing on the top line with fellow power forward and left-wing Rick Nash and center Derek Stepan.

The line worked in spurts during the season when one or two of the trio were on hot streaks but both wingers being lefties holds Chris Kreider and Rick Nash from realizing their full potential.

Chris Kreider is a young future star NHL player. He had his first full year in the league last season and didn’t disappoint. He had a line of seventeen goals with twenty assists totaling thirty-seven points (17-20-37). The big speedster will have a full season of New York Rangers hockey under his belt playing for now second year head coach Alain Vigneault. Kreider played the majority of last season on the top line with Rick Nash and Derek Stepan and for stretches they were good together. On paper the three of them have the potential to make a dangerous top offensive line. Both should play on separate lines so they can play on the left side being they’re both lefties. I think Chris Kreider is able to play on his off wing next season. That line could be broken up and, Derick Brassard may have to be the second line centerman. If Chris Kreider were to play with Martin St. Louis, there could be two good solid puck possession lines. If Glen Sather can find a right-handed shot with above average skating to play on the top line with Rick Nash and Derek Stepan.

Chris Kreider had an encouraging season in his first full campaign in the NHL

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Kreider got injured in a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets from a slash to one of his wrists. If not for the missed time he may have eclipsed the twenty goal plateau. He proved last season that he could be an experienced power forward with grit and push back willing to stick up for teammates and create havoc in front of the net. This is one of the things Alain Vigneault needs from him, the player the New York Rangers need, similar to what Alain Vigneault had in Vancouver with Ryan Kesler. Chris Kreider played in the crease often but experienced defenseman were still able to get him out of the goaltenders line of sight. He should be better at that this season. If he uses last season as motivation then this season the training wheels will come off and he’ll be set loose on the NHL. He has the size to be a very hard player to play against, a player teams have to game plan for.

Chris Kreider will be a large part of the New York Rangers offensive production next season. His attributes will be used to great effect.

Chris Kreider will be the NY Rangers "X" Factor this season

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

I think Chris Kreider is going to offer some real solid offense and puck possession statistics in the 14/15 season. The run all the way through the playoffs and to the Stanley Cup Finals should have left an impression on the young power forward. A second full season should give the star left winger the confidence that he belongs in this league. With confidence he can go out and play without worrying about ice time or making mistakes which is going to happen. I expect Alain Vigneault to merge him into the offensive game plan more in 14/15 and he will be the New York Rangers “X” factor. The supporting cast is starting to take shape as Glen Sather works the UFA market.

Update-Lee Stempniak and the New York Rangers have agreed on a one year contract worth $900K for the 14/15 season.

Lee Stempniak is a right-handed shot and a solid skater. He'll likely play on the third line but we will have to see where the coach puts him in the lineup. This is a good signing if only for an experienced right-handed shot to add balance to the left hand heave New York Rangers.

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