During the press conferenceSather may have hinted that the Rangers could be adding players that sign with the team once they are finished with their season and are ready to join the big club.
Obviously, the player Sather was most likely referring to was Boston College left winger Chris Kreider. Kreider was the Rangers 2009 first round draft pick, and has spent the last three years playing for BC's Eagles and team USA in international tournaments. Through those three years Kreider has gotten better and better in terms of development and production.
In his junior year at BC, playing under coach Jerry York who loves to role four lines, Kreider has 19 goals, 17 assists and 36 points in 34 games this year. Kreider has really proven that he is indeed a man among boys out there utilizing his size (6'3 230lbs), his speed and his NHL-level shot to dominate one of the toughest division in the NCAA.
Now the question is -- with Sather hinting at it -- will Kreider turn pro in April once the National Championship is over and done with? (BC has an excellent shot of winning it all and Kreider is a big reason why).
My answer is yes, I think that Chris Kreider will go pro in April, but I do not think that he will be in the Rangers' lineup come playoff time and nor should he be.
Join me after the jump for more.
The Rangers are rolling right now; top in the division, top in the East and second in the NHL. While the Rangers are lacking another top-end offensive weapon -- and Kreider certainly has that talent -- I highly doubt that Tortorella (who was surprised when Kreider didn't turn pro last summer) will put Kreider in the lineup and throw him into the top six come playoff time.
If Kreider is on the NHL roster come April 11th (when the playoffs start), he'll be placed on the third line and while he is very good in his own end, Kreider needs top six minutes to be productive and Torts simply won't risk putting a rookie, fresh into the NHL, into the fire of going against the Malkins, Ovechkins and other top line talent that he would likely face on a top six line.
My solution would be for Kreider to sign an ATO (Amateur Try Out Offer) and report to the Connecticut Whale. Let him get a taste of playing in the pros, while still getting adjusted to the uptick in talent level. This won't hurt his development and gives the Rangers security knowing that their winger of the future is currently playing in their system and under their control contractually when he signs his ELC in the offseason.
Kreider will be with the team next year, and it doesn't hurt to have him spend some time in Hartford learning the ropes a bit and rounding out his game.
If you've been on this site for more than a year you understand how big of a supporter of Kreider I am, but I also don't want to rush him into the NHL during playoff time and force even more pressure on him to perform up to Rangers fans expectations that they have for him.
With all that being said, the floor is yours guys. What do you think the Rangers do with Kreider? Do you think he goes pro after the Frozen Four? If yes, does he start on Broadway or on 1 Civic Center Plaza (Where the XL Center is located)?