Chris Kreider is a victim of his own success. It's true. Really.
Kreider burst into the NHL during the New York Rangers magical postseason run in 2011. He scored five goals and added two assists in 18 playoff games as the Rangers fell two games short of the Stanley Cup finals. He was a rookie. He broke records. He put fans on the edge of their seats. He was the Rangers best player in more than a few games. And, unfortunately, his success allowed fans to put the bar at an unrealistic height early in his career.
Here's the facts about Kreider:
- He's only played in 23 regular season NHL games.
- He's played in 49 NHL games (if you include the playoffs) in his career.
- Kreider is just 22 years old.
- The lockout impacted his first full season in the NHL (last year) and then when he was in the NHL John Tortorella didn't give him a fair shake.
I've argued with some of you about this before, but I refuse to believe Kreider got a fair shake under Tortorella. He simply wasn't allowed to make the mistakes rookies tend to make, and more often than not he found himself seeing less than seven minutes of ice time a game regardless of what he did. Look at the way he was treated compared to J.T. Miller (before Miller got the same treatment). The differences were pretty significant.
Kreider needs a chance to make those mistakes. He'll get that in the AHL. To be honest with you, I think Kreider can figure things out in the NHL. The staff might feel that was as well, but Kreider stands to see far more ice time (and thus, more opportunities) in the AHL to start the year. He'll find his way back to Broadway this year, it just won't be at the start.
And that's OK.
This is really the first full year Kreider has. Sure, there was no AHL lockout last year, but there's too many variables. Kreider was yanked back and forth too many times for him to get his feet wet and keep them wet. It was a confusing year for everybody, let alone a kid new to the show. So Kreider had some ups and downs. His first sequence in the AHL was bad. His second in the AHL was spectacular. His NHL time last year had more downs than ups. That's OK. Very few rookies burst onto the scene with no problems. That doesn't mean the rookies who do have issues are busts.
All Kreider needs is time. The coaching staff is giving him that.
But it's the one thing some fans won't.