The New York Rangers are going to need guys like Chris Kreider to step up if they hope to take another swing at a Stanley Cup run.
With the retirement of Martin St. Louis and trade that sent Carl Hagelin away – among other moves – the spotlight is set to shine brighter on Kreider and a few others (such as Derek Stepan and his big, new contract).
Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault thinks Kreider has what it takes, as he told reporters including Andrew Gross of the Bergen Record.
“I believe he can become an elite player in the league,” Vigneault said. “He’s got everything to become a dominant power forward. It’s his time to shine now, be a go-to guy on this team.”
Wow, that’s some strong praise.
The 24-year-old is going great lengths to get better. Back in June, he basically told the New York Post that he won’t leave a stone un-turned.
“I’m going to reach out to people and I have already reached out to people who I believe can help me improve and get to the level I want to reach,” Kreider said. “I’m going to work with a skills coach, I’m going to continue to work with my conditioning and skating instructor, I’m probably going to take some boxing lessons and I’m going to consult with a sports psychologist.”
“Whatever resources are there, I’m going to use.”
As of this moment, Kreider is set to become an RFA after next season. It’s up to him to generate a huge upgrade from his current cap hit of $2.475 million.
If nothing else, it seems clear that Vigneault will give him every chance to wring the maximum amount of cash out of this contract year (and help his team along the way).