Chris Kreider went straight from the NCAA to the NHL playoffs and held his own in the New York Rangers’ run to the Eastern Conference finals.
With five goals in 18 postseason contests, Kreider broke a 59-year-old NHL record for most playoff goals before making a regular season appearance.
He seemed poised to be one of the most closely watched rookies in 2012-13, but until the lockout is over, he’ll be playing with the AHL Connecticut Whale.
“It’s still hockey,” said Kreider in a Bergen Record report. “I don’t look at it like that. It’s still a huge jump up from where I played most of last year. I have to be ready and mentally focused.”
Even if it’s not the league he was projected to start the season in, playing in the AHL should still be a great learning experience for the 21-year-old.
“His timing will be better, for one thing,” Rangers GM Glen Sather said. “He’s getting competition that a lot of these guys aren’t experiencing right now. Playing and practicing are two different things. When you’re playing, it’s a lot more competitive. It’s harder work. It takes more out of your body but it’s putting more back into you. It’s a good experience for him.”
Kreider will be playing against a lot of other people in the same position as him. If the lockout extends into the regular season, there will be quite a few young players who have already established themselves to varying degrees in the NHL leading the charge for their AHL clubs.