Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mailbag: Should Chris Kreider Be A Ranger For The Playoffs?

Jason asked: Should the Rangers sign Chris Kreider like they did with Tony Amonte to join the team for the playoffs?  He could be on the first line and really help our power play this season.
The simple answer to that is no, but let me expand my thoughts.
There is no debating the fact that 2009 1st round pick Chris Kreider is unquestionably the New York Rangers best prospect.  Being the best prospect for the Rangers comes with a level of expectations from this organizations tremendous fan base that a player can step into the NHL and be an impact player on their first day.  Efforts like last night’s MVP performance in the Beanpot Tournament championship game will only raise those expectations further; if that is possible.  I am not here to dampen the excitement over Kreider as he is the most skilled offensive prospect the Rangers have had in a long time.  What I do want to do is preach some patience with him and abort the discussion I am seeing this morning about how soon he should leave college and be a professional player.
Kreider played a brilliant game and he has a knack for doing so in the biggest games as he was huge in the Beanpot final last season as well, but those goals were only his 8th and 9th of the season, which is not a level of domination showing he is NHL ready.  Taking a little perspective, when Amonte was signed for the playoffs his numbers that season at Boston University were 31 goals, 37 assists in 38 games.  Kreider this season has 9 goals, 11 assists in 26 games.
Excitement mixed with impatience is a natural state with Rangers fans.  There is a lot to be excited about with Kreider, but there are also signs that fans need to take note of and take a step back to see where he actually is in his development.  In both seasons Kreider has had slow starts in which it has taken him a month or more to really get into the season.  If he signed with the Rangers and did that he would be getting the kind of treatment that Michael Del Zotto and Evgeny Grachev are receiving right now. 

Kreider will tell you when he is ready, not with words or signing a contract, but when he truly begins to dominate his level of competition, which he has yet to do.  The domination standard is one that Director of Player Personnel Gordie Clark believes in holding the prospects to before advancing them.  Kreider has shown that he can dominate within an individual game, but has not shown it over longer stretches.  Maybe he will have another phenomenal close to the season and show there is nothing left for him to gain from another season in college, but to this point I am not convinced that giving him another year to develop and more importantly “be the man” at Boston College would not be better for him long term.  I would rather they wait too long than make the mistake of rushing another prospect because Kreider will eventually be the Rangers first line left wing and a crucial component to the power play as long as they let him go through the stages of development at his pace.

Do yourself a favor and check out The Prospect Park's take on Kreiders performance last night and his future.