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Committed Kreider Looking To Play To His Strengths This Year

by Jim Cerny / New York Rangers

When faced with the proposition of making a long-term commitment to the Rangers last week, Chris Kreider, a restricted free agent at the time, did not hesitate doing so; and neither did the organization shy away from making such an important commitment to the player originally drafted 19th overall by the Blueshirts back in 2009.

This commitment to one another was cemented in the Rangers and Kreider agreeing to terms on a multi-year contract extension.

"I love it here," Kreider told earlier this week. "From the top down management is great and has been nothing but great with me. The coaching staff is terrific; and I've got nothing but good things to say about every player I've ever played with since coming to New York. So this was a real no-brainer for me in terms of the environment; but I also believe in what we're trying to do here and what we have been able to do already. I still think there is a lot more we'll be able to accomplish."

The intelligent, well-spoken Kreider also sees the team reciprocating his trust and commitment.

"It's a vote of confidence when they're willing to sign you up for a few extra years," explained Kreider. "It's a great feeling to know they believe in you."

Despite the multi-year agreement, Kreider swears that whether he signed a one-year deal or a long-term contract, he'd have the same drive and the same approach for the upcoming 2016-17 season. After consecutive 21-goal seasons, Kreider is confident there is more he can give to the team by playing to his strengths on a more consistent basis.

That is clearly something which drives the 25 year-old former Boston College star through the long, hot summer months.

"I'm trying to get in better shape than I've ever been in so in a way the long summer is a blessing in disguise," offered Kreider, who notched 43 points a year ago and 46 the previous season. "I've got a firm grip on what I want to get better at this summer. I know what my strengths are and what the two or three things I do really well that I need to be better at to be a reliable player."

Kreider is spending much of his summer in the New York/Connecticut area working on those specific areas of his game, mentioning puck possession, play along the walls at both ends of the ice, using his size, strength and speed to go straight at opposing defenders and put them on their heels, driving to the net consistently, shooting more often and from different angles and areas of the ice.

In other words he wants to be the modern day National Hockey League power forward, something the rock-solid and lightning-quick 6-foot-3 230 pounder is well equipped for physically.

"I just want to be a bully, hammering my game home on a consistent basis, simplify my game and rely on the physical attributes I have, that's the player I want to be," stated Kreider. "In my mind there are not a lot of players like that in the league, so I want to be that player on a nightly basis. I want to be really hard to play against."

Kreider added that he has "a mission to show up and perform every single day" for the Rangers and if he does the team will certainly benefit in a major way--welcome news to a club that earned 101 points in the the regular season a year ago, but was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for the first time in five years last spring.

"I think there's going to be a collective chip on our shoulders and I imagine there'd be an individual chip on some guys' shoulders," Kreider said. "I think that's part of what's so great playing in a market that holds you so accountable--it centers you, pushes you to be the best player you can be and best team that you are, and ultimately prove yourself right in believing in yourself and your team. I think the criticism we heard at the end of last year will help bring the room together and I expect a lot more of a battle and push back on a nightly basis this year, a lot more guys with that pit-bull mentality."

This is the kind of mind set the organization is thrilled to hear from one of its most important players. Combine that with the high-end skill set Kreider possesses and it's no surprise why the Rangers invested in him long term.

And hearing the passion in Kreider's voice, it's no shock that he looked to stay a Ranger for as long as possible, too.

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