Yesterday we reviewed rookie Carl Hagelin on the blog, so it was only appropriate that we followed that up with Chris Kreider (more like their names coincidentally come right after each other on the roster). But anyway, Kreider was signed by the Rangers just before the playoffs in the NHL kicked off, and immediately after his Boston College Eagles won the Frozen Four NCAA tournament. It was obviously all a whirlwind for Chris at the time, but despite doubt placed against him and the tough circumstances he was entering into, he came out and wasted no time stealing the spotlight on Broadway, becoming a major story League-wide during the postseason.
The Good: Much like Hagelin, speed is the key ingredient to Kreider's success. This enables him to get to loose pucks first, lead the rush, backcheck extremely well and even break away from the defense for scoring opportunities a la the highlight below. At some point throughout the Rangers' playoff run, we saw Kreider do all of this and much more. He's a slippery player although quite large at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds. He played well with almost every line he was placed on, but especially with friend and center Derek Stepan. These two had a chemistry that the Rangers hope will continue to build next season as well.
Not to mention Kreider racked up five goals and 2 assists in 18 playoff games, which had him tied for eighth on the team in scoring, as a rookie remember. I doubted the kid coming out of college and jumping right into NHL playoff action as that is a difficult task for anyone to swallow. However, as he started to build up the points and create opportunities on the ice, he rapidly began to prove me wrong.
And the great thing about Kreider is that he is already one of the players you anticipate to come out onto the ice and immediately make something happen, at only the age of 21 mind you. The confidence that he played with was truly amazing considering his young age and his inexperience, and that speaks to how well he could possibly perform in his official rookie season next year with the Rangers. I think there's little doubt that if not at first, somewhere along the road he will work himself into the top six on offense.
The Bad: This one is tough. The only thing I could say here is that Kreider must learn when it is right to use his bursts of speed and when it is not. This is something he sort of tested with during the postseason, but again, he was a kid coming straight out of college in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It's not something that was unexpected.
Plus, he did turn the puck over a bit in the early going and wasn't thinking shot as often as he should have. Both of those changed by the end of the postseason, however.
Highlight of the Year:
Overall Assessment: In just 18 playoff games, Chris Kreider displayed loads of promise for the future. Night in and night out the kid was one of the better forwards on the team, in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, as a rookie. That right there speaks for itself, and if he was capable of doing that in the playoffs, imagine just how high he could set the bar during the regular season. You can pretty much pencil Chris in as 2012-13 Calder Trophy winner.
Report Card Grade: A