2017 marked a step for New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider. His steady development towards becoming an elite power-forward at the NHL level continued. More impressively, his role grew on an evolving Rangers team.
Another Step Forward for Kreider
The upward trend continues for one of the New York Rangers bright young stars. Chris Kreider turned in the most impressive campaign of his young career in 2017. In his fourth season, Kreider made strides at both ends of the ice. Similarly, he further cemented himself as a key cog in the Rangers’ future plans.
In the 2016 off-season, Kreider was rewarded an extension by Rangers’ General Manager Jeff Gorton. The four-year deal represented an endorsement for the budding power forward, but also came with a team-friendly cap hit. Kreider’s average annual value of $4.625-million allowed the Rangers flexibility to sign other key restricted free-agents Kevin Hayes and J.T. Miller.
If the production the Rangers received in the first year of Kreider’s new contract is a sign of the player he is becoming, the deal will be an all-time bargain. Coming off of consecutive 21 goal, and 40 plus point seasons, Kreider reached a career high in both categories. In 75 regular season games, Kreider scored a team-leading 28 goals, with six coming on the power play, and 53 points.
Where Kreider’s game stood out the most was the role he was asked to play and the level of competition he played against. After playing under 16 minutes per game in his first few seasons, Kreider claimed a spot on the New York Rangers’ top line. The results were impressive across the board. He was fourth on the team in points, and he paced the Rangers’ forwards in Corsi-for% at 54.5CF%.
As the Rangers forward group was hit with miscellaneous injuries throughout the season, Kreider suited up in nearly every game. He gained valuable experience alongside some of the team’s most responsible forwards, as well as extended time on the top power play unit. Kreider seemed to find his home with the man advantage, using his big body to set up camp in front of helpless goaltenders.
The Playoffs and Forward
Unfortunately, Kreider’s game seemed to hit a snag as the season’s calendar turned. Kreider’s consistent source of offense throughout the regular season and postseasons past vanished. His game looked lethargic for much of the playoff run and the result was four points (3G, 1) in the team’s 12 postseason games.
While the 2017 season may not have ended as well as it began for Chris Kreider, the future is bright. Without a doubt Chris Kreider’s name will surface in off-season trade rumors, with the Rangers consistently against the cap and actively seeking defensive help.
However, there are few players that live up to the bright lights of New York as well as Kreider. When the 2018 season comes rolling around, look for Kreider to be there for the opening faceoff.