Over the last few seasons, Chris Kreider has shown signs of what he could be. Now he is performing at a big-time level for the New York Rangers. 

Dom Renna

Chris Kreider has been one of the most confusing players to watch during his seven-year career. One minute he is the best player on the ice, the next he looks lost. However, this year, Kreider seems to have put it all together.

Drafted by the New York Rangers 19th overall in the 2009 NHL entry draft, Kreider burst onto the scene during the Blueshirts’ 2011-12 playoff run that fell short in the Eastern Conference Finals. He scored seven goals in the postseason during that run and gave fans hope of him turning into a legitimate threat in the NHL.

It took time for Kreider to get his feet wet in the league but, now he looks like he has figured out how he needs to play to be a dangerous threat in the NHL. This is not something new for Kreider, who went on a tear after returning from a career/life-threatening injury a year ago. This year he’s carried his success over and is really making an impact on this Rangers team.

He has 11 goals on the season tying him with four other players for 12th place in the league in goals scored. But, what is more impressive is the run he has been on throughout the team’s last eight games. During that span, he’s found the back of the net seven times picking four assists along the way.

If one thing about his game is obvious is that he is back to using his speed and size to his advantage.

Notice how Kreider picks up speed at the Rangers blueline, setting himself up to receive a pass from Neal Pionk on the wing. This is as close to when former Ranger Derek Stepan would just throw the puck into the corner and let Kreider use his speed to create something out of nothing. Kreider did just that here, taking what would be a normal powerplay rush and turning it into a goal.

Yes Kreider still has the occasion where he misses the net every now and then with the shot, but the response to that is simple, at least he is shooting the puck. This Ranger team has been notorious for passing up shot opportunities and Kreider is doing the opposite of just that with 12 shots in his last four games.

The area of Kreider’s game that has seen the most improvement over the last few years has been his net-front presence. Former coaches Alain Vigneault and John Tortorella have always thrown him in the front of the net on the power play but, it was never really successful. That has not been the case this year, as he’s been a legitimate threat in front, causing havoc in front of the opposition’s netminder.

Not only is he providing traffic in front but, he has the ability to deflect pucks past the netminder adding another weapon to his game. This is the difference we are seeing from him this year, him doing more than just skate and use the body.

As the season progresses, the Rangers will need Kreider to keep this kind of play up. The kind of play where he becomes a threat every time he is out on the ice. A threat that has the opposition looking around because of what Kreider can do on the ice. Someone who can beat you with his speed, the body, and now his shot.

While his skill set has been something to marvel at in 2018-19, his leadership has also risen to another level. He sets the tone out there, his younger teammates are looking up to him and seeing how he handles criticism from head coach David Quinn. How he handles himself with the New York media, who can be very critical of any player playing in worlds most famous arena.

The Chris Kreider fans thought they were getting six years ago has finally arrived in 2018-19 and, he has shown over the last few weeks he is not going anywhere any time soon.

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Dominick is a graduate of Canisius College. He has covered the Rangers for the last seven seasons and the Yankees for the last four.