In an article by Neil Greenberg of ESPN Insider, the columnist discussed the new look Rangers. In the article, he spoke very favorably of the team. Highlighting the addition of Rick Nash, the fact that they have a young core of forwards and a strong D as the main reasons to support his claim that they should be cup favorites going into the 2012-13 campaign.
While I won't disagree with Mr. Greenberg's article on that point, he does make one assessment within the article that I found somewhat interesting and here it is:
"...Kreider, on the other hand, should be met with tempered expectations. The former Boston College Eagle scored five goals in the playoffs -- a record for players who began their careers in the postseason -- but fans shouldn't get carried away anticipating massive production during a full regular season. Players similar to Kreider -- 21-year-old rookie forwards who dressed for at least 40 games -- can provide a solid estimate. Since the lockout, those players have averaged 15 goals on 131 shots with 18 assists in 1,045 minutes over an 82-game season..." - Neil Greenberg
I understand citing and relying on the statistical trends we've seen in the recent past. In most cases, it's the most reliable and full proof way to support an argument or more accurately predict the outcome of future events. In this case though, it seems a little short-sighted not to mention contradictory when related to the very article he included the assessment in. If we've learned one thing as sports fans, it's that anything can happen and there are always exceptions to the rule. In Kreider's case, while many 20-22 year old rookies have not posted gaudy numbers, there are indications that support Kreider himself will be an exception to the rule. Let's also not forget that the numbers Neil Greenberg references are in fact, an "average". Meaning there are people on either side of those numbers that have performed exceedingly better or worse.
It's easy to look at the fact that the average player making their NHL debut at a similar age to Kreider has not posted gaudy numbers and paint with a wide brush. However, I can't use that logic to say with confidence that Kredier will fit into that mold of average statistical output. Nothing we've read or seen of him over the last year seems "average" to me. I'm not saying that Mr. Greenberg is calling him an average player now or in the long term. I realize by average, we're talking about where we should expect to see his statistical production in his first full NHL season. Again though, nothing about this kid seems average to me. I mean how many players of a similar age, making their NHL debut in the playoffs, had posted the numbers he did before last year? I may be wrong, but I think none.
If Mr. Greenberg had posted a similar article last year just before Kreider's playoff debut, I'm sure he would have found statistical evidence to support the idea that we should've expected very little production from the 21 year old. As we all know, that was not what we saw. Kreider has already shown that he is not your average player, let alone your average 21 year old. Therefore, I don't see any reason to expect to see the average numbers of players making their debut at or around his age.
I think it's within reason to see 25-30 goals and 25-30 assists from this kid. I wouldn't even be shocked if he surpassed 30 goals. I want to be very clear though, that I do not "expect" these numbers and I won't be disappointed with Kreider should he fall short of these numbers. I'm just saying that I don't think it's that much of a stretch to say the numbers I mentioned are a realistic possibility. Especially if we are all going to acknowledge the fact that he is surrounded by some serious talent. In all likihood he'll be logging big minutes both at even strength and the power play. Also worth noting, is the way he was able to score his goals during the playoffs. Most came as a result of his excellent positioning/ability to read the defense, immense speed and elite NHL caliber shot. Not qualities most players 21 years old or younger possess.
I'm extremely excited to watch Kreider play and grow into something special. We probably don't even know yet what his ceiling is. Buckle up and enjoy the incredibly fast ride he's about to take us on. We may have a special one in Kris Kreider. I for one believe we do and think we'll see some evidence of it this coming season.