What Type of Production Can Rangers Expect from Chris Kreider in 2014-15?

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What Type of Production Can Rangers Expect from Chris Kreider in 2014-15?
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Chris Kreider is one of the New York Rangers' most celebrated stars on Broadway, and the upcoming 2014-15 season should be a momentous time for the sophomore NHL winger.

Kreider dazzled and impressed during postseason stints, but 2013-14 was the first time in which Kreider was able to stick on the Rangers roster like a piece of gum on a Manhattan curbside. The former collegiate standout tallied 37 points in 66 games, a near point-per-game player during the Rangers' run to the Cup Final.

At this point the organization, fanbase and media are familiar with the Boxford, Mass. native, but what type of production can the Blueshirts expect from their 2009 first-round draft choice? 

Ideally, the Rangers can expect a 25-goal, 50-point season from Kreider if all goes well, and there are many reasons why it should go well in 2014-15.

When trying to project Kreider's numbers for 2014-15, it was important to look at his numbers from 2013-14. For starters, Kreider averaged 15:44 a game, recorded 136 shots and found twine on 17 of them.

New York Rangers Top Shooting Forwards
Player Goals Shots Shooting Percentage T.O.I.
Chris Kreider 17 136 12.5 15:43
Carl Hagelin 17 144 11.8 15:31
Derick Brassard 18 159 11.3 15:47
Mats Zuccarello 19 170 11.2 17:08
Rick Nash 26 258 10.1 17:01

NHL.com

These numbers are very important because they isolate how Kreider produced in a certain circumstance. It also focused on whether or not his rate-of-scoring was ordinary.

After some simple arithmetic, Kreider's shooting percentage from last season factors out to 12.50, 2.7 points higher than the league average of 10.43 according to Quant Hockey. In simple English, this means Kreider's rate-of-scoring was slightly above average, and therefore attainable unlike some other players in the NHL.

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For example, Brenden Morrow of the St. Louis Blues scored 13 goals on 56 shots in 71 games last season.

That factors out to a shooting percentage of 23.2, something that is nearly impossible to maintain. Kreider's variance in comparison to the league average is something positive, and that should give fans hope for the upcoming season. 

Had Kreider played in all 82 games in 2013-14, he would have tallied about 21 goals when you take his rate of goals-per-game and multiply it by 82. When you factor in the potential for a few up and down swings Kreider could have had in those 14 games, 21 is a very realistic number.

Considering all of these variables, it is much easier to see that in 2014-15, under ideal circumstances, the Rangers can expect 25 goals or more from their budding winger.

There are a number of factors that should allow Kreider to raise his goals-per-game rate by four points, and the biggest one is ice time.

As mentioned earlier, Kreider only played 15:44 a game, with 13:31 coming at even strength. For perspective, Kreider's 13:31 a game was seventh-most amongst forwards. Two of the forwards on that list—Ryan Callahan and Brad Richards—are no longer with the team, so that alone will lead to some distribution of ice time.

Based on the Rangers' line configurations during the 2013-14 playoffs, there is enough evidence to indicate that Kreider will be on the Rangers' top line on opening night. In that role, Kreider could see anywhere from 16:00 to 18:00 minutes a night.

It could be even higher if Kreider is used on the penalty kill, and that is something Alain Vigneault should do if the former Boston College star proves himself in his own zone. Kreider is a skilled and aggressive forechecker. His blazing speed will make him a threat shorthanded if he pressures the puck away from an opposing player at the point.

Carl Hagelin has been able to use that tactic to his advantage from time to time, and it would be even more effective for Kreider when you consider his vast arsenal of offensive skill.

Speed is a big part of Kreider's game, but he has shown the ability to score in a multitude of ways. He will beat you on a breakaway, with a well-placed wrist shot, a quick snap shot or an old fashioned howitzer of a slapper from just beyond the circles.

Kreider's physical strength and frame of 6'3" and 230 pounds enables him to fight through traffic, and that determination is another valuable asset that he can use to his advantage.

This versatility is what will enable Kreider to flourish into a proficient NHL goal scorer, and 2014-15 should give fans a look at what is to come.

The upcoming season is the first year in which Kreider enters camp with tangible experience and chemistry with other players. Experience has always been key to his development, hence the reason why Kreider was moved back and forth between Hartford. 

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

When you factor this in with the natural maturation from getting older, all the ingredients are in place for a surefire recipe for success.

Ultimately, the only guarantees in life are still death, taxes and an NHL work stoppage every 10 years. But there is enough of a reason to be optimistic with Kreider having a very productive season in which he sets career highs for himself.

Stats via Hockey-Reference.com unless noted. 

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