BUFFALO NY - DECEMBER 28: Chris Kreider #19 of the United States looks to make a play on Dominik Riecicky #30 of 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 Staes won 6-1. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Once again I want to give a tremendous thanks to the New York Rangers organization and their PR Department (especially John Rosasco) who helped me interview Gordie Clark about the upcoming Traverse City tournament and about some of the prospects within the Rangers organization. I would also like to thank Gordie, who gave a fantastic interview and took a significant amount of time out of his day to answer all of my questions.
Another topic breached in my 30-minute interview with Clark was the situation with highly touted prospect Chris Kreider. Clark goes into detail on how his game is progressing, his thought's on Kreider's decision to remain at Boston College for a third year and more.
Join me after the jump for that story:
One of the biggest names in the Ranger's farm system is Chris Kreider, the Ranger's first-round pick (19th overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. The high-scoring prospect had already agreed to attend Boston College when he was drafted and has already spent two seasons in the program tallying 26 goals and 21 assists for 47 points in 70 games. Kreider also has a Beanpot MVP award to his name, and lead the United States in goals during last year's World Junior Championship.
Gordie Clark, Director of Player Personnel for the New York Rangers, talked about Kreider's production at both levels since he's been drafted.
"The measuring stick we talked about earlier with the World Juniors, which has been played for the last few years up in Buffalo in front of NHL-sized crowds in an NHL-sized rink is that it's the next group of guys who are coming into the NHL for all NHL teams," he said. "And that, technically, is more of a measuring stick, and Chris went in and he impacted two World Juniors in a row. He played in five major tournaments that year, four in college, and he added a medal in Buffalo with the US team and the Beanpot and then played more of a role on the men's team as a 19-year-old kid."
Clark also went into detail on the different type of hockey Boston College provides for its players.
"Boston College has a very strong program, and they don't particularly put one guy on the ice more than another," he said. "They play everybody, everybody is happy on their team and they're successful, so why ruin it? He's not playing on all the power plays for Boston College and then on the World Junior team he is."
It's for that reason that Clark doesn't think too much stock should be taken in the numbers Kreider has put up in Hockey East.
"Sometimes you just need to take in the overall picture," he said. "Chris is so bloody fast and strong, if I coached him I would just tell him to go get the puck, because he can. And if he missed it the first time I'd tell him to go back again because he's so fast. He made all kinds of plays this year, he's a very underrated goal scorer."
That's not to say that Kreider has nothing to work on. Learning the game from a team concept is one of main lessons Kreider has learned in the NCAA ranks.
"What Chris had to learn, as he gets towards the NHL, is that the pros have a lot of very smart defenseman, and they're as strong as he is and some guys are even as fast as Chris," Clark said. "So he had to learn how to play a team game. And that's what [Boston College Head Coach] Jerry York was able to provide for him. And he and that coaching staff have done a great job. Everything isn't just dependent on him. At prep school it was "if Chris went we won." At Boston College you're one of the team; he's learned how to play a team game and learned how to play his position."
Despite the past two seasons at Boston College being fantastic learning experiences, many fans were upset to see Kreider chose to remain at the Hockey East powerhouse for a third season. Clark did talk about how these kids need to make the decisions for themselves, and talk to their families to figure out which is the best road to take. Clark believes that had some influence on his decision to stay in school.
"He is ready to turn pro, but it's his decision to make, and we support it," Clark said. "Chris had a load of classes over the summer because he's probably meeting his parents half way. So maybe he told them: 'I'm not going to go to school all four years, but I just accelerated myself and took four courses this summer' so maybe next year he can have the option to turn pro."
While a lot of people might not be happy with that answer, remember that there is a life after hockey. More than a few players have had loads of potential, but never made it in the NHL for whatever reason. If Kreider and his family made it a goal that he needs to graduate before he goes pro, then it shouldn't be looked at as an insult to the Rangers or towards his goal of becoming a professional hockey player.
The general consensus is that Kreider will find his was into the professional ranks next year, although nothing has been confirmed and at this point it's all speculation.
The concern about his game can probably take a backseat, even if he doesn't dominate in the NCAA in his third year. I've said it before and I will say it again, it's hard to judge a player's NCAA stats. Obviously you would expect him to have a better season, but his World Junior numbers do speak for themselves.
Thoughts on this guys?