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Why Chris Kreider may be the most important player on the New York Rangers

Frank Franklin II, AP Photo

Frank Franklin II, AP Photo

When the Rangers traded away Ryan Callahan, they traded away a major part of their core to be able to acquire an injection of elite skill in veteran Martin St Louis. It also indicated a change in emphasis on the roster – have the Rangers truly embraces a win-now mode? Barring an unexpected turn of events, Brad Richards will be joining Callahan as an ex-Ranger after this season, and more may follow – think Derick Brassard, Brian Boyle, Dominic Moore et al. Major roster turnover may be around the corner, as Dave mentioned this morning.

With the absence of first round draft picks, the Rangers can’t be expected to land any can’t miss prospects through the draft for the foreseeable future. This subsequently cranks up the pressure on the current youth in the organisation. Enter Chris Kreider.

While the Rangers undoubtedly live and die by Henrik Lundqvist’s form and the scoring ability of St. Louis and Rick Nash, Kreider is the closest thing the franchise has to a sure-fire elite offensive weapon in the long-term. With Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi and Lundqvist anchoring the team defensively, the team should be in enough games to be competitive. But where do the goals come from?

With St Louis closer to 40 than 30, Nash’s injuries beginning to mount, and the likes of Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan and J.T. Miller (probably) better suited to secondary roles in the long-term, Kreider is perhaps the one young Ranger that can be expected to carry a line offensively in the future. This all makes Kreider a pivotal Ranger.

Kreider has a lot of issues still needing attention. More often than not he’s an adventure in his own end. Regardless of where he is on the ice, his game away from the puck is not pretty. That said, no player in the Rangers system can come close to combining his size, speed, shot and all round package. With some fine tuning from the coaching team Kreider should become a consistent 25-30 goal scorer.

The Rangers have been fortunate to find a solid second goalie in Cam Talbot. They have been able to lock up two high quality defenseman long-term. But looking two or three years down the line (already looking beyond the St Louis era), the Rangers have very little that can be counted on up front. There are a lot of question marks long-term.

There are prospects in the system that generate optimism, and St Louis himself is exhibit A as to why a draft status – or lack of it – doesn’t guarantee anything. That said, the Rangers cannot count on the draft in the immediate future. Ranger fans better hope the organisation can harness all of Kreider’s natural ability and turn him into an offensive leader. Kreider’s success will have a massive influence on the franchise over the next decade.

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15 Responses to “Why Chris Kreider may be the most important player on the New York Rangers”

  1. Dave says:

    Aside from Nash, Kreider, and Stepan, this club really doesn’t have many offensive weapons locked up.

  2. Zen says:

    Well stated. This organization seems to be terrible at developing good, consistent goal-scorers. I know it isn’t easy without top draft choices, but none of the up-and-coming snipers in the system ever develop into the clutch scorers the organization desperately needs. That is indeed why Kreider is so important to the team’s future.

  3. Ray says:

    I agree that Kreider is important, but not with a lot of the rest. That Kreider can score in front of the net like Nash and Pouliot but no one else makes him valuable. However, I am not ready to assign minor roles to Stepan and Miller. I think people here have consistently gotten Miller wrong. He wasn’t ready last year or at the beginning of this one and his play was abysmal. But he’s since become dominant in the AHL and in his last call-up he looked like a true NHLer. The way he undressed the goalie on his breakaway goal suggests a true offensive force. BSB downplayed his failings and now is downplaying his talent.

    • Dave says:

      I think you’re misunderstanding us here Ray.

      The issue we have isn’t with Miller or his talent (which he has a lot of). Our issue was that he doesn’t belong on the fourth line, which is where he was playing here.

      He’s a liability in his own end, and the way AV deploys the fourth line is with primarily DZ starts. That doesn’t play to Miller’s strengths. It sets him up to fail.

      • Ray says:

        I think it is fair to read Chris’s post as saying that Miller is better suited to a secondary role in the long term and that was what I was quibbling with. I am not an advocate of playing Miller now.

        In partial hindsight however, trading Callahan to San Jose and letting Miller replace Callahan looks to have been the better choice.

        • Dave says:

          I see Miller as a solid 3C, which would put him in a secondary role. Where do you see him?

          • Chris F says:

            I would have refrained from trading Callahan. Then if he walked this summer, make Miller the 2nd line RW. We’d be 2 picks richer, too.

          • Ray says:

            This may be right, BUT I can see him as a 1C or 2C as well. He’ll never be Crosby or Toews, but otherwise I wouldn’t be conservative on his ceiling. I’d guess 2C as an average expectation, with either 1C or 3C as possible.

            • Dave says:

              I really don’t see him as even sniffing a 1C spot. 2C is really the top of his potential.

            • bernmeister says:

              Miller is easy 2C esp. w/correct linemates. Let’s give him a year min before we are pushing him to 1C.

              More importantly, who will he play with?

              If lines are good, more minutes can be provided to them, so how big is the dif from (next year) a first line of
              Nash – Stepan – St. Louis
              (w/Brassard the alternate if we trade Stepan+ for upgrade)
              and a second line of
              Kreider – Miller – Haggerty/Zuc ?

              Had originally envisioned as go-go line, w/Miller only C with enough speed to even begin to allow CK to turn on the afterburners.

              Third line would be sweet Swedes,
              Hags – Lindberg – Fast

  4. Leatherneckinlv says:

    Agreed, Kreider is a must to develop into a star as a home grown player. I hope we make a ton of changes in the off season.

    Only untouchables to me are Kreider, Stepan, Brassard, Zuccarello, Boyle, D Moore, Dorsett, J Moore, Klein, Girardi, McDonagh, Lundqvuist and Talbot.

    Pouliot and Hagelin are bubble players as to keep or trade for me. I kinda like both players but if a good return could be had trade them too. Ok with it either way

    Trade Nash, St Louis, Richards( keep some of the salary or out right and sign a Stastny), Carcillo, Staal and Stralman.

    A line up looking like this won’t be bad

    Statsny as an FA
    Staal to Carolina for Ryan Murphy, a 1st round pick and a 2nd round pick in 2015

    Stralman to anyone for a 5th round pick in 2014

    St Louis to Edmonton for Nail Yakupov, Boyd Gordon and a 1st round pick 2015

    Nash to Winnipeg for Jacob Truba, Andrew Ladd and a 1st round pick in 2014

    Carcillo to anyone for a 6th round pick

  5. Leatherneckinlv says:

    Next years line up

    Kreider with Stepan and Yakupov
    Hagelin with Boyd and Ladd
    Brassard with Stastny and Zuccarello
    Boyle with Moore and Kristo

    Dorsett and Beach as extra forwards

    McDonagh and Girardi
    Moore and Klein
    Allen and Trouba

    Murphy and Falk as extra D men

    Talbot and Lundqvuist

    Murphy could be traded for a forward

    Miller, McIlrath, Lindberg and fast get 1 more year in Hartford