Twenty-one year old rookie Chris Kreider, is a speedy, six foot three, two-hundred and thirty pound forward with incredible skating ability. And while he came into the NHL with a bang last season, his first full rookie season in the league this year has been anything but stellar.
Kreider has already battled an injury this season and doesn’t appear to be NHL-caliber at the moment.
It begs the question: is he really ready to play in the National Hockey League? I don’t think so.
Sending Kreider down to play with the Connecticut Whale is probably his best chance at becoming the National Hockey League player he has the potential to be.
Remaining with the Rangers this season would be a mistake. New York Rangers head coach John Tortorella will not play Kreider if he does not produce.
In the 11 games Kreider has played this season, he has totaled a whopping two points: one goal and one assist. For Tortorella to be playing Kreider in situations that he is not yet ready for can potentially damage him as a player. He will undoubtedly lose his confidence.
In the latest episode of MSG’s Behind the Bench, Tortorella went into detail about Kreider’s development as a professional:
“I think Chris has a lot to learn about the game, a lot to learn in how to be a pro. This isn’t shocking to me. He has a tremendous amount of attributes to be a really good player it’s a matter of putting them all together. Me playing him four minutes or six minutes is not going to help him.”
Tortorella commented in the same segment that Kreider may regain his confidence “right away” or it “may be awhile, I don’t know.”
By sending Kreider down to play with the Connecticut Whale, he has the chance to play every game, and an opportunity to play a solid amount of minutes. Kreider needs consistency in his early professional career, and sitting in a press box as a healthy scratch isn’t the kind of consistency that he needs.
With his offensive production lacking, and his defensive ability below Tortorella’s standards, he has a lot of work that needs to be done. Playing in the American Hockey League as a Connecticut Whale is a good way for him to regain his confidence in himself along with his chance to develop his game and mature in the star player he has the ability to be.
It seems to be working, too: Kreider has two goals in two games since being re-assigned to Hartford.