After yesterday’s informal skate Chris Kreider spoke
with Jim Cerny of BlueshirtsUnited.com.
Kreider’s surprise appearance at the skate and comments to
Cerny were both enlightening and reassuring and should calm those that are
worried about the left wing’s future.
Kreider, 20, has come under fire from many who wanted him to
sign with the Rangers this summer and light up Broadway this season. Even members of Rangers’ brass made it clear
that they would’ve preferred to see Kreider leave college and accelerate his
But the BC junior has been adamant about returning to school
for a third year and hasn’t shown the sense of urgency to play in the NHL that
many would like. Kreider’s circuitous
route to the pros has been scrutinized even further since the Rangers’ drafted
fellow American J.T. Miller, who has told anyone that would listen that he
wants to play just one year in the OHL before turning pro.
But every player is different and Kreider has his reasons
for staying in school. This is a mature young
man that values his education, his time in college and his BC Eagles team. His New York debut has been delayed a bit
longer than we expected, but it’s possible that Kreider and the Rangers will be
better for it.
Impatience with Kreider is justifiable; not only is he two
years removed from being a first-round pick and hasn’t taken the next step
towards being a pro, but his production at college has been underwhelming. Although those are obvious reasons for concern,
there are explanations for both.
Kreider doesn’t want to pursue his NHL career until he feels
he’s truly ready, and he
doesn’t believe he’s there yet. He’s
been part of a great program at BC and has been dedicated to playing two-way,
team-first hockey. At the World Junior
Championships and IHF World Championships we’ve seen what Kreider can do in
flashes, but consistency has been an issue. Kreider knows it, and he’s being very honest with himself in admitting
that he’s not ready for the pro game just yet. That’s a very mature approach for a prospect and it could serve Kreider
particularly well when he turns pro.
The desire from both the organization and the fans to see
Kreider in Ranger blue is totally understandable. He is considered to be one of the top
prospects in hockey, has the potential to be a star and is thought to be on par
with the best skaters in the world right now. He could be a game-changer for the Rangers, a missing piece that drives
an emerging young franchise to even greater heights.
But Kreider shouldn’t be faulted for doing this on his
terms, especially since there’s a pretty good chance he’s making a strong
decision. Just because his NHL debut has
been put off longer than many would like doesn’t mean he’s not going to be
everything that we hoped. And while the
college route can seem like a slow development path, remember that Ryan
McDonagh and Derek Stepan went from the University of Wisconsin to the NHL in
just a few short months last year.
No, the college schedule isn’t as grueling as the Canadian
junior leagues, but Kreider’s conditioning is said to be very strong. If he chooses to turn pro next season it will
be because he feels he’s ready, and we’ll discover then whether he was worth
the wait. There’s still plenty of reason
to believe he will be.
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