How many rookies can say that they started their NHL career off with a bang, by posting five goals in the playoffs, let alone three goals on one of the greatest goalies of all time in Martin Brodeur?
Only one. His name is Chris Kreider.
After a dominating junior season at Boston College, Kreider signed with the Rangers and was thrown into action against the Ottawa Senators after Carl Hagelin was suspended for three games, following a flying elbow that concussed Daniel Alfredsson in Game 2.
He scored five goals and assisted on two others in his 18-game stint with the club, doing as much as he could to help them get to the Stanley Cup Final. Not too bad for a 21-year-old coming straight out of college.
However, the 6'3", 230 pound Kreider has yet to play in a single regular season game. Now some might think that he should have no problem in the regular season, seeing how he performed so well in the playoffs, a much more rigorous atmosphere. However, the regular season is 82 games long, about twice the length of the college schedule. This doesn't always bode too well for rookies that come out of school.
There's something different about Kreider, though. There's just something special about him. When you watch him play, knowing how big and fast he is, it just doesn't seem like anything can phase him. The Rangers, always remaining competitive, have never had that top five pick which brews generational talents such as Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews. Kreider, however, has the potential to be a star in the NHL.
Kreider, the Boston College product, will likely start the season with University of Wisconsin product, Derek Stepan. He and Stepan have incredible chemistry, playing alongside one another in Saskatchewan during the 2010 World Junior Championships, which saw team USA bring home the gold medal after defeating team Canada in the championship match. In just seven games together, the two combined for 21 points playing on the same line.
The power forward has a lot to learn at the NHL level, despite setting an NHL record for most goals scored in the playoffs without having played a regular season game in one's career.
He'll have many veteran leaders to look up to for advice, including Brad Richards and Rick Nash, both of whom have had illustrious careers and know what it takes to succeed in this league.
Kreider will thrive in his first NHL season, notching 26 goals and 33 assists for a total of 59 points, playing in all 82 games. Now if the season is shortened due to a lockout, this projection would translate to 19 goals and 24 assists for a total of 43 points (based on a 60-game season).