While John Tortorella was pleased with Chris Kreider’s NHL debut, he was hesitant to predict the 20-year-old’s future.
“He’s going to go through the process,” the Rangers head coach said of his prized rookie on Monday. “Who knows what happens next year with him.”
It’s pretty clear Torts is tempering expectations, which could be sky high given what Kreider did this postseason: Five goals in 18 games, breaking a 59-year-old NHL record, etc. etc.
Kreider also has plenty to learn, something Tortorella pointed out prior to Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals. He admitted letting Kreider’s defensive lapses and errors in judgment slide because he didn’t want to “screw him up.”
“We’re not doing a lot of teaching and a lot of structure with him. It’s just the wrong time,” he told NorthJersey.com. “There’s enough things going through his head where we just want him to play. He’s had some breakdowns away from the puck. Those are things we’ve tried to teach a little bit but not too much.
“This is instinctive. He’s an instinctive player. We’re just trying to let him go.”
Translation: Instinctive for now is fine. But if Kreider’s with us next season, we’ll be teaching him plenty.
That, combined with the potential for a sophomore slump, is probably why Torts said what he did. He also clearly doesn’t want the media running wild with pro-Kreider stories…even though they already have.
“You guys have him playing 22 minute on the first line with some of the articles you write,” he said.