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