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Chris Kreider called 'a freak athlete' by peers

Former Rangers teammate Derick Brassard: 'Guys like him are really hard to find'

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

Chris Kreider agreed to terms on a contract with the New York Rangers just before the start of an arbitration hearing Friday.

Now he can get back to focusing on his continued development into one of the top power forwards in the NHL.

"Chris is very physically gifted," former teammate Derick Brassard, who was traded to the Ottawa Senators on Monday, said Thursday during Smashfest, a charity table tennis tournament hosted by veteran NHL center Dominic Moore. "He's one of the strongest guys in the League who has really good speed and a really good shot. Guys like him are really hard to find. … The Rangers are lucky to have a player like him."

Video: NYR@PIT, Gm5: Kreider deflects shot past Murray

Last season, Kreider had 21 goals and was second on the Rangers with 177 hits. It was his second straight season with at least 20 goals and 160 hits. And among players to score at least 40 goals over the past two seasons, he is eighth with 339 hits.

"He is fast and one of the best-built players in the NHL," Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad said. "He hits hard and he plays the game at a high pace. He is very difficult to play against."

As physical as the 6-foot-3, 226-pound Kreider plays the game, it's his skating that stands out.

"Chris is the most explosive skater in the history of the NHL, in my opinion," said Moore, an unrestricted free agent who was Kreider's teammate in New York the past three seasons. "He's a game-changer because he can break out and do amazing things because he is a freak athlete. Guys like that don't grow on trees. He has earned his way into being a valuable player in the League."

Kreider was sixth among Rangers forwards in ice time last season at 15:57 per game, but that number could rise as he continues to skate through his prime as a forceful, skilled presence.

"Hopefully I am just scratching the surface," Kreider said. "I am of the mindset that I am trying to get better every single day. I guess if you are not improving, there's no point of doing it."

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