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Is a Chris Kreider recall imminent?

Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images

Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images

Though he was last year’s playoff hero, Chris Kreider got off to a tough start with the CT Whale during the NHL lockout, and his confidence was at an all-time low when he joined the Rangers for the start of the NHL season.  Kreider had been asked to round out his game in the AHL and the learning process was more difficult than he may have expected.  As a result, his offensive numbers took a nosedive.

Still, the Rangers saw just how valuable Kreider could be last spring and handed him a job to start the season despite his struggles.  One highlight reel goal against Martin Brodeur notwithstanding, Kreider failed to generate much of anything offensively in third line duty, so the Blueshirts made the difficult decision to return Kreider to the Whale two weeks ago while keeping 20-year-old JT Miller with the big club.

Just like that, the switch seemed to flip for Kreider.  He’s scored 6 goals and an assist in eight games since being demoted, dwarfing the numbers he put up in his first stint with the Whale this season (5 goals and 7 assists in 34 games).  Kreider seems to have rediscovered his offensive touch, but it’s a safe bet that he hasn’t learned how to play “the right way” at both ends of the rink in the two weeks since he left New York.

Still, Kreider has proven the ability to score at the NHL level and given the Rangers’ desperation for offense, many are clamoring for a recall.  This is a classic case of what’s better for the long-term growth of the player versus what the team needs now.  There’s little doubt that Kreider would be best served by playing out the duration of the season in Connecticut, but the Rangers are in win now mode and have few other options.

The Blueshirts have flirted with bringing Mats Zuccarello back, but may be hesitant to guarantee Zuccarello enough NHL playing time to lure him back overseas.  It’s possible that Jesper Fast and/or Oscar Lindberg could come over after they exit the Swedish Elite League playoffs, but there’s no firm timetable on that and it’s impossible to know whether either could make the jump straight to the NHL.  There are some intriguing names floating around the trade market, but teams don’t seem too eager to deal just yet given how tight the standings are and prices are sky high (not to mention New York’s own salary cap troubles).

This decision would be made much easier if some of New York’s top offensive threats began producing, but that season-long issue doesn’t seem any closer to resolving itself.  So the Rangers will likely bring Kreider back, perhaps just on a trial basis.  That might not make sense for a team not facing the same expectations as the Rangers, but such is the burden of being labeled a “contender.”

17 Responses to “Is a Chris Kreider recall imminent?”

  1. Dave says:

    Kreider is starting to dominate, he had another goal in yesterday’s Whale win. I think he gets another look before the deadline. That will help the team judge what they need.

  2. Dave says:

    I’m double commenting on this, because I forgot a very interesting bit.

    Kreider’s recent surge in the AHL isn’t all that surprising. When he struggled, there were NHL players in the AHL. Now, there are no NHL players.

    Food for thought.

  3. Kevin says:

    Great point I hadn’t considered

  4. Walt says:

    The kid is doing well because he isn’t afraid to make mistakes, and then be forced to ride the pine! He is a natural goal scorer, when he does get another shot at the bigs, let him play his game. If you have a sprinter like Kreider, don’t try to make him a long distance runner! That my friends is what Torts is trying to do to this kid!!

    • VinceR says:

      You keep ignoring this, but he struggled in the AHL before the season. I don’t think it makes sense to blame his play on Torts, the kid played crappy hockey in the AHL and the NHL.

      He was sent back down to develop more (like many a young player, including our captain) and it’s worked.

      Torts never put him in a doghouse and was publicly supportive of him! He said he had to play better away from the puck and he was struggling but it wasn’t like he was punished. He said the kid was learning and just needs more seasoning, as it to be expected.

      He played on the third line because that is where the kids are playing unless, either out of necessity or because they are playing well, they are moved up to a higher line.

      I don’t get this obsession about Kreider being in Torts doghouse or the ignoring of his play before the NHL season started. If you want to blame the system it makes a little more sense(and I’ll disagree but at least you can make an argument out of it), but it’s the same system they use on the Whale so players are adjusted to it when they make the big club.

      So it’s not like he is just playing some offensively open system in the AHL that doesn’t require him to dig, scrap and hit. He is just merely developing and playing better. He played crappy with the system before Torts in the AHL, he played crappy doing the same in the NHL, he got sent back down with a better understanding of what to concentrate on (coaching) and is now starting to excel playing the same system in the AHL.

      • Dave says:

        Thanks. I’m getting tired of repeating myself.

      • Walt says:

        Vince

        Granted, he isn’t the soundest player as far as playing defensive two way hockey. My point is, he is a scorer, let him play as such, and expose him to the defensive side slowly. Can you claim Gabby, or Richards are sound defensivly, no way, yet they are in the line up

        We can’t score, and haven’t been able for several seasons, this kid can, let him run. There are enough on the team that can cover for him in that area, but that isn’t the case offensivly. There is a learning curve, you got to expect that he won’t be sound defensivly, but expose him just the same. How sound was Cindy, Malkin, Ovechken, Semin, etc., not very but they were played just the same, and they made contributions on the scoring side of the ledger! How many snipers are in the NHL that can’t play a lick of defense, plenty, but they are still out there doing what they do best, score!!!!!!!

        • VinceR says:

          But that’s the point Walt…he wasn’t scoring in the AHL either until now. Now he is. And still playing the same system. Let’s stop pretending he was looking like the second coming of Gretzky, even in the playoffs last year. He had fresh legs and it created some scoring opps, some he scored off, most not.

    • Ann says:

      I totally agreed with you.
      This is what I have been saying, He is a goal scorer. Turn him loose and let him play his game.
      We saw what happened in the playoffs

  5. The Suit says:

    Dave what was Kreider’s corsi in the NHL before his demotion?

  6. Walt says:

    Vince

    Lets agree to disagree!

    Also, I never said the kid was the second coming of #99, all I said is give him a chance to be himself!!

    Have a good one.

    • VinceR says:

      Sounds good Walt, I didn’t mean to come across as too sarcastic..just was saying people say he’s a natural scorer, I just think that term is over-used.

      I just think he is built like a power forward and this system actually suits him fairly well.

      Have a good one man.