Chris Botta of the New York Times published an article yesterday stating that the Rangers may be interested in bringing in top prospect and Boston College star Chris Kreider for a stretch run and possibly the playoffs. Kreider’s last game, at the latest, would be April 7, and would give the Rangers enough time to get him signed and over to New York for some much needed scoring help.
Kreider has already chosen college over the Rangers for the sake of his development, and while he was wrongly ripped by many, it was the right decision. Kreider is dominating the college level, which he didn’t do last year. He is likely ready to make the jump to the pros, but that may mean a stint with the CT Whale in the AHL first.
If Kreider signs with the Rangers and plays one game with the Blueshirts, the Rangers would lose an entire year of control on his entry level deal. In the new cost-conscious NHL, salary controlled players are at a premium, so that would be a big gamble by the Rangers if they do so.
The more likely scenario is that Kreider signs an amateur tryout (ATO) with the CT Whale for their playoff run, and then signs his entry level deal in the summer. By going this route, he won’t burn a year of his entry level deal*. In doing so, Kreider would lose his NCAA eligibility.
*-I believe this to be the case, and I can’t find otherwise. Please correct me if I’m wrong here.
The rule of thumb with prospects is that the organization should allow a player to dominate a season at his current level before moving him up. The Rangers messed this up with both Michael Del Zotto and Evgeny Grachev, of which only Del Zotto appears to have turned the corner. They learned their lesson though, and took that route with Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, and Ryan McDonagh.
Of that trio, only Hagelin signed an ATO with the CT Whale. If Kreider chooses that route, he can’t play in the NCAA anymore, and would be committed to the Rangers organization the following season.