In extradorinary circumstances, Kolarik not Kreider

January 2, 2013, by
Could the Rangers benefit from a hot Chad Kolarik?

Could the Rangers benefit from a hot Chad Kolarik?

When the Rangers hit the ice in due course (once the CBA is finally resolved), they’ll do so knowing it’s a sprint to finish the regular season. There will be minimal margin for error in player selection and form, and health will be a priority – not player development.

With the likelihood of a conference only playoff-play-in, and the chances of making the playoffs for all teams more even than in a normal season (a quick start in a 48 game season would be huge), no team can afford to carry passengers or tolerate growing pains from individuals. In such an abbreviated season comes opportunity for the likes of Chad Kolarik, and those opportunities need to come at the expense to the likes of struggling prospects such as Chris Kreider.

Kreider of course represents the future of the Rangers, along with bright sparks such as JT Miller and Dylan McIlrath, etc. However, Kreider is struggling and the Rangers – like any team hoping to make the playoffs – need to get off to a quick start. They need to ice the best line up when the season convenes and that means taking advantage of their farm system which has been on the ice for weeks.

Chad Kolarik, under normal circumstances, is a marginal NHL prospect. Given the draftees around him in the system and his age, he should have a chance to grab an NHL spot, and his opportunity would be deserved. Throw in to the mix that the Rangers operate under the mantra of ‘dominate at your level before moving up’ and you get the feeling Kolarik will get a long look from the management.

The Rangers will need additional scoring on the second and third lines, and Kolarik can help. With 26 points in 31 games for a middling Whale side this year, Kolarik has played well. He’s a more offensive type at the NHL level than Kris Newbury, although perhaps both players will get a look given the need to find collective team form quickly.

With 12 goals Kolarik leads the Whale and is a player not afraid to shoot. On the other hand, Kreider has struggled through his first pro regular season and it would be in his (and the Rangers’) best interests that he overcome his struggles outside of the media glare of New York and in the safe confines of Connecticut, where they have more time to teach and support the hugely talented winger. With the Giants and the Jets stumbling badly this year, when the NHL hits the ice the media attention could be greater than normal,w so Kreider would be under intense scrutiny.

Kolarik will come to whatever NHL camp there may be and will be desperate. He’ll know this will probably be his last chance at making the big league and that level of desperation – along with his form – will give him an edge over most of the candidates vying for one of the open roster spots. The talented AHL winger could be the next PA Parenteau. Did the Rangers give up on Parenteau too early? Perhaps, perhaps not… but clearly in the right situation these players – often seen as ‘tweeners’ – have the ability to make an impact.

Don’t rule out the element of surprise. Every coach in the NHL will have seen the impact Kreider had on the playoffs last spring, will have seen his college exploits and will have seen his ability on the international stage. It will be harder for clubs to game plan for the (more) blank canvas that is Chad Kolarik and in such an abbreviated season any advantage could be a deciding factor.

The Rangers owe it to Kreider himself, the players most deserving, and the organisation as a whole to turn to Chad Kolarik ahead of Kreider. It’s not a rejection it’s about short term success. The window to win has already opened after all.


  1. Dave says:

    Not necessarily sure I agree with Kolarik being an answer, but like the idea of making sure Kreider can handle the full season.

    Ballsy post my friend.

    • Chris says:

      ha ha thanks dude. I think Kolarik could offer something and I think they may go with a veteran heavy team because of the shortness of the season.

      Kreider, barring a sudden change of circumstances should be given the full year in the A.

  2. Matt J says:

    I’m kind of surprised Kreider has struggled the way he has, but with the Rangers depth issues do they have a choice to not play him?

    In the short term maybe Kolarik could offer something similar but I think if both were thrown into this lockout shortened season they’d have similar results.

    If there was a full season and training camp maybe I’d consider leaving out Kreider but I think at this point the Rangers have to play him and hope for the best.

    • Dave says:

      You really shouldn’t be surprised by Kreider’s struggles. Stepan/McDonagh are the exceptions to the developmental rule. It was believed that Kreider needed a full year in the AHL, like most prospects, before making the jump.

      Despite his point totals in the playoffs, his overall game had some big holes.

  3. Walt says:

    Interesting posting on this subject. Maybe Kreider is having a tough time adjusting to the pro game, maybe not.

    Could it be that he interested in developing his defensive side of the game? I read that he is trying to improve his all around game, and that in due time the scoreing will come around.

    Personally, if Chris doesn’t come up at first, continues to develope his all around game, come play-off time, he could be the spark that can help carry the team over the top! Just a thought.

    • Dave says:

      That’s what I think it is. Kreider’s play without the puck wasn’t anything special during the playoff run.

  4. SalMerc says:

    I think too many people annointed Krieder “a sure thing” due to his small play-off exposure. He may in fact be a sure thing, but maybe not a 2013 sure thing. NYR need to put together 20 guys who are ready and in-shape when the bell rings. Not an easy decision for Torts or Slats, but one that has to be made as a 4 game pointless streak could be nearly impossible to recover from.

  5. Joe says:

    I don’t think you can fairly analyze Kreider’s play right now. The coaching staff of the big club thought he was good enough to put him right in the lineup out of BC. And he rewarded that decision with some strong play. So now he is struggling with a weak Hartford team; so what. That is not where he needs to be. When he gets back with big league talent, with a coach who can mold him into the type of player they believe he is, he’ll be fine. Talking about promoting Kolarik before Kreider doesn’t make any sense. If they have a season, its going to be a sprint. Better to go with what you know, then what you hope foe. Kreider has proven, albeit on a limited basis, that he can perform at an NHL level. Give him back his Ranger sweater; he’ll be fine!

  6. Jeff P says:

    I believe Kreider is one of those guys who play better with higher level of teammates around him.

    • Dennis says:

      I happen to agree with you, I went to a Whale game last week and they looked AWFUL. Not sure if it was just that game, but I think Kreider most definately will play better with better talent around him.

    • Jess Rubenstein says:

      If the season starts you can just about guarantee that Kreider will be in the NYR lineup not in Hartford.

      The Rangers are not about to burn the 2nd of his 3 year ELC by leaving him in the AHL. They will want to see how he handles the NHL before demoting him.

  7. Sioux-per-man says:

    Who ever has the hottest hands and can put in more goals should be playing.

    Not alot of room to make mistakes, and our defense should be one of the best in the league with Henrik in the net.

    FIRST – there has to be a season. Let’s hope the powers to be can get it together this week.

    Any news how Gaborik is doing? Will he be ready to roll if there is a season?

  8. agentsmith says:

    i knew this would come up.

    i think chris earned enough last playoffs to get him first crack off the whale. but its either him or kolarik or both depending on torts use of asham.

    • Chris says:

      Its an inevitable debate with the way Kreider and the Whale generally have played.

      Its important for a franchise to reward the truly deserving with ice time to make sure the carrot of a recall is always there and players who deserve to be there get a shot. It’s obviously a balancing act with regard to looking at the future but if Kolarik (or whoever) gives the team the best shot then they need to play.

  9. pavel says:

    I too went to a Whale game, and Kreider was next to invisible. Sure, he showed bursts of speed, power, and stick-handling once in a while when he was given a perfect pass. Otherwise, he seemed, lazy and lost.
    I don’t believe in the “he’ll perform better at higher level” argument. Right now he hasn’t shown that he can make players around him better, which is a true measure of a star. Of course, he can finish better when getting fed by Stepan or Ritchards, but so what? He needs to dominate in the AHL to show true longevity in the NHL.
    Kolaric, on the other hand, was buzzing all over the ice, and his line (with Newberry and Hrivik) was by far the most dominant of the Whale lines.
    Give a harder working guy more of a chance, I say.

  10. The Suit says:

    If I had a dollar for every AHL goal scorer who just couldn’t put it together in the show…not sold on Kolarik

    Kreider will be fine. He needs more time to learn how to play on both sides of the puck, but questioning his will…I don’t know, that seems like a stretch.