There's been plenty of theories flying around Blueshirts Nation on why Chris Kreider has not been able to put it together and produce on a consistent basis.
Some feel he has a poor hockey IQ, while others think he's not dedicated enough. But Brad Richards says Kreider's nerves are likely his biggest enemy...
“He was pretty uptight in the preseason, understandably. He wanted to make the team more than anybody, I worked out with him all of August up in Connecticut, that’s all he thought about, talked about. I haven’t seen too many guys work that hard away from the rink to get himself ready. He might have pressed a little bit, but he really wants it. Sometimes that can get in your way, your head gets in the way and maybe things don’t look as smooth out there as they should. Hopefully, this is a great chance for him to play on the power play, he’ll get good minutes, hopefully he can put that in his mind before the game starts that he’s going to get this chance and just play. Maybe that’ll help him.”
Kreider agreed with Richards assessment (via Daily News)...
“He’s right. I mean, obviously this isn’t the position I wanted to be in. I was overthinking it (in the preseason). I was thinking about doing A, B and C instead of just doing A, kind of getting in (my) own way. But that’s not an excuse. I’ve got to be mentally sharper, more cognizant of what I should be doing as a hockey player in the game. It’s one thing to work hard; it’s another thing to work smart. So that’s something I’m focusing on and hopefully I can continue doing.”
...i definitely take issue with anyone who thinks the problem with Kreider is that he's not willing to put in the extra work to become a better player. I've never once seen the kid dog it during the game and any practice report I've read indicated he was one of the first guys on the ice and last ones off. And don't even try to criticize his offseason workouts which are reported to be thorough and intense as Richards confirms above. I think we can all agree that the problem with Kreider isn't of the physical nature.
...i've said it before on the blog, but to me the issue is between the ears. Whether it's as Richards says and Kreider is pressing or he's not able to understand the nuances of the NHL game, the best thing Kreider can do is take a deep breath, start having fun on the ice and let his natural born talent take over. If he's able to do that, I don't have any doubt that he can become one of the top scores in the NHL.
Kreider, who also acknowledges that being healthy this season will make a difference in his game, is excited about playing on a line with Richards...
"It doesn't matter who (Richards) plays with he's going to make them better, and that person is going to learn from him. He knows so much. I was lucky enough to lift with him at the end of the summer and kind of pick his brain a little bit, and just from being around him it defintely has helped me, helped bring me along."
...Richards was able to help Del Zotto produce his best NHL season two years ago by taking the young defenseman under his wing. Really hoping the Rangers alternate captain is able to kickstart Kreider's career by doing the same.
During that brief span of games 2 seasons ago when he was effective (not just scoring goals), he was using his speed and size to retrieve deep pucks and harass the opposing team in its zone. Kind of like Hagelin.
He has yet to show me, however, that he can stickhandle, find space, or otherwise make plays with the puck. No doubt he can shoot and skate. But is he a hockey player?
Was just thinking that same thought Kevin.. I hope Richards really takes him under his wing. And can you blame Kreids for over thinking everything? One mistake in his tenure with the team and he was promptly stapled to the bench followed by being sent back down. I hope AV gives his guy the encouragement he needs and the breathing room to make mistakes so he doesn't feel like his career is in Jeopardy every time he makes a mistake. I want him to succeed if not for the fact that it would be so disheartening to see another 1st round pick just crumble. Also, is it conceivable that Slats wants him in the lineup as trade bait? I think it's a possibility.
Let me preface this by saying I am in no way projecting that Chris Kreider will be one of the top 3 players in the NHL. There once was a kid in Tampa back in the '08-'09 season who was taken 1st overall in the draft by a crappy team. He put up 3 goals and 7 assists in his first 23 games on a team that earned 66 points, good for 2nd worst in the league. So this kid has ZERO pressure on him to produce anything. He was allowed to stay with the club and work through his game and didn't do much of anything for his first 50 games. After those first 50 CONSISTENT games (not staggered over 2 seasons), he started to score a little more (17 goals in his last 30 games). In his next 3 seasons he scored 156 goals and eclipsed 90 points each season. The moral of the story is that it's probably worth it to have a little patience with a kid that scored 5 goals in the most pressured filled NHL games you can face, but has yet to play consistent minutes in the NHL. The Beginning.
@Hotfreak It's a fair point, but how many guys can you name on this team that have the assets he has? I'll take him even if he can't stick handle like malkin. Hagelin is not nearly as big and Boyle mine as well run on the ice with sneakers on and he'll get to the puck faster. I think where he has value we are very much in need of.
@SA24 I think the timing that Kreider came in also didnt allow torts to have anyone screw up. I think that coming in in the playoffs followed by a shortened season where every game meant that much more didnt allow time for players to have bad games because of the sprint. maybe with the full season, there will be that time...hell the team as a whole already seems to be taking it
@gravey94 Well stated gravey,I agree 100 percent.
@gravey94 gravey, your perspective is weird. It brings up old, dusty memories of a brighter, kinder time....
OMG! Optimism! Yeah, that's it.
@gravey94 dude come on. All 1st round picks have to score 70 goals by age 23 or they are automatically busts, don't you know anything?
@gravey94 Patience? What's that?
@gravey94 The Rangers have always struggled with working young guys in to their roster. I think you could argue that the "bright lights, big city" pressure to be competitive has been a hindrance. Everyone always seems so worried about "how will he handle the pressure and the media?" and feel this need to shield and protect everyone. Meanwhile a team like Tampa doesn't feel that same pressure, and isn't worried about blowing the whole thing up after a 66 point season.
Cally is another good example (not as good as stamkos, but still). In 06-07 he was back and forth between the NHL and AHL, playing 14 NHL games and registering 6 points (0.42 ppg). In 07-08 he still played moved up and down, playing 52 NHL games and registering in 13 points (.25 ppg). Finally in 08-09, he made the team out of camp and stuck, playing 81 NHL games, never going to the minors, and tallying 22 goals and 40 points (0.49 ppg).
I have a good feeling about Kreider this time around. I think the situation with AV and the fact that injuries have basically prevented anyone to be fighting to take his spot, he can do a lot better. But you're absolutely right, they need to let the kid play consistently in consistent situations if he's every going to get comfortable and become an NHL caliber player.
@gravey94 Well, when you have Barry Melrose as your coach to start your career, anything can happen.
@shoot_the_goalie @johnnyb3910 @gravey94 Lots have had really good rookie campaigns (Stepan, Hank, York, etc.). Probably the last 2 "impact seasons were MDZ and Prucha. Prucha was ruined by the way he was used and MDZ is still out, but probably would have benefited tremendously from a year in the AHL. Again, no patience by the organization.