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For as long as Chris Kreider is with the Rangers’ organization, he will more than likely remain the team’s top offensive prospect.
2012-13 was rough for Kreider, though, who spent the lockout months with the organization's AHL affiliate, the Connecticut Whale. Before joining the Rangers in late January, Kreider registered just 11 points in 33 matches for the Whale; a disappointment, considering the youngsters impressive playoff performance just a few months prior.
Kreider couldn’t make Alain Vigneault’s opening-night roster and has since been skating in the AHL once again. Four games into the season, Kreider has registered two goals and three points in four games and is said to be playing well.
Recent acquisition Danny Kristo finds himself in a similar situation. The 23-year-old came by way of Montreal in a deal that sent former Rangers prospect Christian Thomas the other way. Kristo skated for the University of North Dakota last season and put up a staggering 26 goals and 52 points in 40 games, which was good for second in the nation.
But after completing his senior season with ND, Kristo joined the Hamilton Bulldogs—Montreal’s AHL affiliate—and failed to impress the Habs’ management. In just nine games, Kristo picked up zero goals and three assists.
After arriving in New York, Rangers management felt Kristo could have a real shot at making the opening-night roster, but AV had other plans. Kristo, too, was sent to Hartford. Through five games Kristo is the Pack’s leading scorer with two goals and five points.
Also plying their trades in Hartford are promising prospects Marek Hrivik and Oscar Lindberg. The two were in contention for spots on the big club but are currently best served playing in the AHL.
Hrivik, a Slovakian native, turn organizational heads last season, scoring seven goals and 26 points in 40 games. His dynamic blend of skill and physicality made him a viable candidate for the Rangers, but after three games in Hartford, with only one assist to show for it, it’s clear Hrivik is better suited for the AHL game right now.
Lindberg has done a whole lot of impressing over the course of the past 12 months, beginning with his stellar SEL campaign last season. Lindberg racked up 42 points in 55 games in Sweden’s premier hockey league during the regular season. The 21-year-old was also named the playoff MVP.
Upon arriving in New York, Lindberg continued to impress with a strong showing in the Traverse City Prospects Tournament prior to training camp. Although he also looked good in the Rangers’ initial preseason games, Lindberg tailed off in the latter stages, and it was clear he needed to adjust to the North American game. Lindberg has three assists through four contests with Hartford.
And finally, in terms of other top forward prospects, there’s Cristoval Nieves, the Rangers’ second-round choice in the 2012 NHL entry draft. The 19-year-old skates for the University of Michigan, and in his first season (last season), the forward registered an impressive 29 points in 40 games. Nieves was even invited to team USA’s World Junior Camp this past summer.
Nieves and Michigan have only played two games so far this season, and the sophomore has already registered a goal and an assist.