The 2013-14 Proving Ground

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Chris Kreider

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After bursting on the scene with five goals and seven points during the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the expectations for Chris Kreider's rookie season were sky high. It almost seemed as though every Rangers fan and most hockey pundits thought the former Boston College star was a shoo-in for the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie, long before he had even laced up his skates for his first NHL regular season game. But last year ended up being one of frustrating events for Kreider, and when all was said and done he had two goals and three points in 23 NHL games. There was the NHL lockout,  and as such Kreider missed out on his first NHL training camp. There was uneven play with the team's minor league affiliate in Hartford. There was a chip fracture in his ankle which affected his skating most of the season. There was not nearly as much ice time as expected even in the games he did dress for the Rangers. And ultimately there was a feeling of disappointment. But the bottom line is that Chris Kreider is a tremendous competitor, a proven winner at the collegiate and international levels, and a highly skilled offensive forward---one who should thrive under the new style of play to be deployed by Alain Vigneault and his staff. His play in the 2012 playoffs---not to mention his clutch overtime game-winner against Boston in Game Four this past spring---points to his skill and big-game capabilities. He needs to prove he belongs in training camp and then needs to prove that he deserves top-six forward minutes, neither of which will just be handed to him. But should he earn both, Chris Kreider will have the opportunity to meet those early lofty expectations placed up on him, albeit a year later.