Could Chris Kreider force his way into the Calder reckoning?

Is Kreider a Calder candidate?

Is Kreider a Calder candidate?

It’s come a year later than expected, but Chris Kreider is finally making his own way as a New York Ranger. During the Rangers recent stretch of good form, Kreider has arguably been the biggest physical force on the ice for the Rangers, using his body to great effect on countless occasions. He’s been producing offense, getting under countless opponents’ skin (hello Sidney), and generally playing the most consistent hockey he ever has done, at the pro level.

As with all projections and forecasts, when you’re barely a month into a seven month season, there is much scope for change. But there is no reason Kreider – who still qualifies as a rookie – shouldn’t be in the reckoning for the Calder trophy come the end of the season. If it’s down to opportunity and ability he’ll be in the mix.

Assuming Rick Nash returns soon – which every person associated with the Rangers hopes – Kreider will not be affected adversely as some may speculate, in fact quite the opposite. With Nash attracting the attention of most team’s best defensive lines, the theory is Kreider and his linemates will have weaker opposition to exploit. With 8 points in 10 games to date, and as one of the current focal points of the Rangers offense, Kreider has proven he can handle tough assignments so it stands to reason he should benefit from the attention Nash garners.

A mere 10 games into his own NHL season – thanks to some development time with the AHL Wolf Pack – it could be reasonably argued it’s a little early to anoint Kreider a Calder candidate, indeed he hasn’t got a full time spot on the Rangers guaranteed quite yet. However, thanks to his current pace (on course for a 60 point season) if he can maintain close to his current form/production Kreider will be in the discussion come the end of the season.

As it stands, Kreider has to contend with runaway candidate Tomas Hertl of the Sharks – who the Rangers know all too well. Mark Arcobello of the Oilers has made a surprising start to his career while Torey Krug (another nasty memory for Rangers fans) and Sean Monahan are the other outstanding rookie skaters so far. In addition, Frederik Andersen of the Ducks is the best rookie goaltender six weeks in.

With that all said, and assuming Kreider can maintain a top six position all season, he can hold his own. It stands to reason that Monahan and Arcobello should face leaner times given their positions on relatively poor teams, while Andersen could fall back to the third (!) string goalie for the Ducks when all are fit and well. Krug has had his ups and downs in recent games too, so if Kreider can catch up with Hertl opportunity knocks.

Kreider actually has room for improvement from a production point of view. His shooting percentage is below career averages (albeit he’s never faced this calibre of goaltending in his career before), while his ice time has steadily increased as his form has improved. With a Rangers powerplay that has shown steady improvement under the new coaching staff, and with Derek Stepan now up to full speed, Kreider has a great chance of a strong season.

Before the season began many were wondering what was in store for Chris Kreider and who would step up to support Rick Nash offensively. As it stands now, the return of Rick Nash to the Rangers would add elite depth and another quality finisher to go opposite Chris Kreider. Quite the development, quite the exciting future.

18 Responses to “Could Chris Kreider force his way into the Calder reckoning?”

  1. WilliamW says:

    While Kreider has had a great 10 game stretch, Seth Jones will be tough to knock off for the Calder

  2. cv19 says:

    Rookie defensemen will always be considered more favorably than a forward but Kreider will certainly be in the discussion. I haven’t seen bodies bounce off a guy like this since Lindros. The kid is a beast!

  3. Rangers Fan in Boston says:

    Been catching some references lately to THE Kreider.

    If this kid can keep it up and make a name for himself, I think we should all adopt this.

    THE Kreider.

  4. cv19 says:

    And I agree with you Chris, the logical spot for Nash will be opposite Kreider. I’ve been getting a lot of resistance on Kreider-Stepan-Nash due to Zucs improved play of late; but it’s a no-brainer.

    • Chris A says:

      Personally, I would slide Nash onto Richards’ line. Nash and Hagelin have been a deadly combo when they play together. Kreider seems to fall into bad habits when paired with Nash, he starts to defer to the big guy and that is not how Kreider needs to play. Kreider needs to be a target for his linemates when he’s on the ice and it seems like with Stepan and Zucc that understanding is already in place.

      It speaks to the Rangers amazing depth that Brassard and Callahan can be considered third liners.

    • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

      I like the Nash-Hagelin connection. Not sure who should center that line, though. Stepan has been great with THE Kreider. But Nash-Richards hasn’t always shown great consistency.

      Tough call for AV.

      • Walt says:

        Maybe Brass??

        Kreider could be in the running for the Calder, later on in the season, it’s too early to make a call, but it would be nice just the same!!

        • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

          Not sure we want Richards on the 3rd line. He needs to score to be effective and that’s just not going to happen consistently with 3rd linemates.

          • Walt says:

            Step is skating with Zucc, and Kreider, and doing very well.

            Brass could slide in there with Nash, and Hags.

            BR skates with Miller, and Callie.

            Boyle goes with Dorsett, and Pouliot.

            We then have 4 very effective lines, with potential for scoreing accross the board.

          • Paco33 says:

            Kreider-Stepan-Zucc
            Hagelin-Richards-Nash
            Miller-Brassard-Cally
            Moore-Boyle-Dorsett

            This lineup would get us to the playoffs and give Sather time to get two “missing” pieces – both of which we may already have. If Miller can’t handle it, Sather has time to find a wing who can. If he finds someone who fits with Richards & Nash, that could move Hags to Brassard’s line with Cally, something I’d love to see. (Pouliot’s gone by the trade deadline at the latest). And if McIlrath isn’t ready to be the enforcer we’re going to need, Sather has time to find someone to fill the spot. (I seriously doubt that MDZ will still be a Ranger by the playoffs).

            Boston killed us because they had four complete and complimentary lines. And they all fit so well I could never really tell which was their 1st, 2d or 3d line.

            • Mark says:

              Agreed that Boston was deep. The other factor is Boston’s size and the relentlessness of their fourth line. I agree with your lineup however it is tough to see Callahan as a 3rd liner. also Agree though that right now you cannot have Richards on the 3rd line. So this is probably what will happen but i still would like to see Mashinter crack this lineup. We do need some toughness.

      • Chris A says:

        To be fair that was 50 year old Brad Richards that Nash played with last year, you know, the one that couldn’t skate.

  5. Chris F says:

    Man I wouldn’t touch Yakupov with a 100 foot pole right now. On top of his poor performance, on top of his own admission about his dislike of backchecking and playing without the puck, now we have his agent whining about ice time. “Play him or trade him,” says Larionov. Says he’ll accept a trade to any team. Please take NY off that list.

    • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

      If the price was reasonable (which it won’t be) I would take a chance on Yakupov. The Rangers have a dressing room full of leaders, unlike Edmonton which is full of young players learning to play in the NHL.

      You can teach a player to back check and play without the puck, sometimes it takes learning from example and veteran pressure.

      Of course, he could decide he won’t play the team concept, in which case he’ll learn soon enough there’s no place for him in this league.

      • The Suit says:

        Tough to know if a bunch of American and Canadian players can get through to an 18 year old Russian kid. That might be a stretch.

      • Chris F says:

        Yakupov has immense talent and very well may be a star in this league one day. But, he’s shown a very immature side and his agent isn’t doing him any favors getting involved in a dispute over a 20-year old’s ice-time. Kid’s gotta learn the hard way that you earn your playing time. This isn’t the NFL or NBA. Your agent doesn’t simply make a call to bail you out after sub-par on-ice performance.

        • Rangers Fan in Boston says:

          Agreed. Got to earn your ice time, no doubt. His agent is certainly hurting his development by placating him (I guess that’s part of the job description).

          But talent is talent. You figure players mature with age, he just turned 20, but Russians can be a wild card with the KHL fallback.

          All I’m saying is if the price is right, roll the dice. This may all be a moot point since I just don’t see the Rangers giving up much of substance for him – nor should they.