New York Rangers' Prospects: Chris Kreider Edition

BUFFALO NY - DECEMBER 28: Kyle Palmieri #23 Chris Kreider #19 and Charlie Coyle #3 of the United States celebrate Palmieri's first of two goals against Slovakia during the 2011 IIHF World U20 Championship game between the United States and Slovakia on December 28 2010 in Buffalo New York. The United States won 6-1. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

As announced on August 1st, prospect guru Russ Cohen will be giving us some insight on some of the New York Rangers' top prospects and draft picks. For those of you who don't know Cohen is an author http://www.amazon.com/Russ-Cohen/e/B0034P5DNC/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_2 who can also be read at www.sportsology.info. You can also follow him on Twitter @sportsology.      

This installment Russ talks to us about Chris Kreider, one of the biggest gems in the Rangers' farm system right now. Does Russ agree with that? 

Click below the jump to find out. 

Chris Kreider is Coming Soon by Russ Cohen

Chris Kreider is a 6-3, 225 pound pivot who has a world of talent. Some Rangers fans were upset he decided to go back to college for his third season but many times that has to do with a players desire to stay in school and honor his commitment for as long as he feels he can.

Boston College is an elite NCAA program so his progress won't be stunted by playing there. It's been a while since the New York Rangers have produced a real offensive star forward but this guy has the goods, and he has a knack for playing at his best in big games, like his World Junior Championship performance to help Team USA claim a bronze last winter.

With all of his international experience, plus college playoff dramatics including a Frozen Four win, he has a lot of big-game experience. He is a leader on and off the ice and he has the necessary grit to play in the NHL. He carries himself like a pro and all of these experiences will benefit him when he's ready to play at the NHL level, and that time is coming.

He was a first rounder and he should live up to the billing and then some. He has a well above-average wrist shot, which looks to be an important offensive tool for the Boxford, Massachusetts native and he's terrific on the power play. His broken jaw did affect his offense late in the season last year (11G, 24pts in 32 G) but this season he has 11 points in his first eight games.

He is on pace to have his finest season yet and that means the Rangers could sign him when his college season ends if they choose to do so. He will be 21 in April, which means he could get some brief time with Connecticut for sure.

At the end of the day, because of the Rangers log jam at the center position, he could end up playing the wing. His success in the face-off circle will probably decide this but for now he is a very versatile player who can play a variety of roles.

His skating is solid, his one-timer is pro material and he has the hockey sense. Now all he needs is time to hone his skills and patience from the Rangers and their fans. The worst thing that can happen to a young player is to be rushed into something that they aren't quite ready for. We all saw that happen with Michael Del Zotto, is still just 21. For every Jeff Skinner and Sidney Crosby who can make a club right out of the gate there are scores of other players who need additional work in the AHL before they can play at the NHL level and there is no shame in that, that's the norm.  Lately, some clubs are giving younger players longer looks at the NHL level because they are "cap friendly".

The Rangers are doing things right with this player and he will pay dividends down the road.    

Russ Cohen is an author http://www.amazon.com/Russ-Cohen/e/B0034P5DNC/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_2 who can also be read at www.sportsology.info. Follow him on Twitter @sportsology. 

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