Thanks to finals and bad TV scheduling (looking at you VS) I haven't been able to keep up with the recaps of Team USA's games (you can catch them here from usahockey.com). So instead of going back and recapping three games (a 6-2 loss to Sweden, a 4-3 shootout loss to Canada and a 3-2 win against France) I'm gonna take a closer look at the Rangers that are playing for the Red, White, and Blue starting with Chris Kreider.
Being one of only three collegiate players on Team USA Chris Kreider was put on the second line with Devils' prospect Nick Palmieri and the Senators Ryan Shannon. In team USA's first game Kreider got the American's first goal of the tournament putting all of his tools on display in an end to end rush and made a quick move to the back hand to beat the Austrian goalie. Kreider looked strong on the puck and used his big body to keep the puck in team USA's possession through out the game.
Against Norway, Kreider showed off a couple of skills that I think are underrated in his vision and passing ability when he found Nick Palmieri on a cross ice pass from along the boards to the goal crease that Palmieri deposited for his first goal of the game. In the second game Chris kept his level of play up and used his strength and speed to keep the Norwegians off the puck.
However, once team USA got to the better teams (Sweden and Canada) Kreider, and the rest of the team, were exposed in their inexperience and lack of real talent depth. To no fault of his own Chris and the US wasn't able to keep up his great start against the bigger, stronger Swedes and Canadians and the results showed it.
Against France, Kreider scored a power play goal by powering his way to the front of the net and receiving a feed from Andy Miele (his first start of the tournament) and Kreider seemed to find his groove again against the softer and smaller French team.
With this being my first real look at Kreider I have to say that I'm really impressed with his talent and I could see his potential against Austria and Norway but it is clear that he is not ready yet. He may have looked good against the weaker teams (Austria, Norway, France) but against Sweden and Canada he was taken out of the game by the more talented teams.
I'm not saying he's a bust or that he's not a good player because he is. You can see that he's almost there, he's almost ready and I could see him playing in the AHL next season but I can also see him playing for BC and getting one more year of NCAA talent can't hurt his development.
In closing, Chris Kreider is the future of the Rangers offense and has the tools to be a good to great power forward and just needs some time to round it all together before he comes up to the big club.