|Chris Kreider, the Blueshirts' No. 1 pick in 2009, tries on his new jersey in front of Rangers Director, Player Personnel, Gordie Clark on Friday night in Montreal. |
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|Kreider on Being Drafted by Rangers ||Watch |
|Gordie Clark on the Kreider Selection ||Watch |
|Sather Talks to Fischler about Kreider Pick ||Watch |
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By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
The Rangers spent the better part of the first round of the NHL Entry Draft on Friday night at the Bell Centre trying to trade up from their slotted position of 19th overall, but were unable to find a willing partner. Fortunately, when it came time to make their selection, the object of the Rangers’ affections -- 18-year-old forward Chris Kreider
-- was still there for the taking.
“We had a number of things we tried to move up to get him, but nothing worked out; but it did work out in the end,” explained Gordie Clark, the Rangers Director, Player Personnel.
“He is an elite athlete, physically and mentally,” continued Clark.
Kreider starred for Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., last season. He led his team in goals (33), assists (23), and points (56), and was the top-rated high school prospect in the draft. Overall Kreider was the 14th-highest rated North American skater, according to the final Central Scouting Rankings of 2009-draft eligible players.
What sets Kreider apart from others in this draft, in Clark’s opinion, is his tremendous speed. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder was acknowledged by most experts to be the fastest skater available.
“He’s the fastest kid in the draft, and that’s the first thing that stands out about him,” stated Clark. “He just dominated with his speed. He gets so many breakaways because he is so bloody fast. He’s got that (Alexander) Mogilny-type speed.”
Skating faster than everybody else on the ice is not Kreider’s only skill, however.
“He can shoot the puck at full speed and from the tops of circles, which is sniper-range,” said Clark.
Despite all of the praise and expectations, Kreider was still surprised when the Rangers called his name and made him the 19th selection in the first round.
“New York is the greatest city in the world, and the Rangers are an Original Six team, so I am just so excited and thrilled to be a Ranger,” said a beaming Kreider only minutes after being selected by the Blueshirts.
In two seasons after transferring to Phillips Andover, the Boxford, Mass., native netted 59 goals in 50 games, while totaling 96 points. He has committed to attend Boston College, where Kreider will take the next step in his development, though Clark only expects him to play one or two years at BC before turning pro.
“I’m a speedy left-winger, and I like to lower my shoulder and get to the net and create opportunities for myself and also for my teammates,” said Kreider. “I also think I am coachable and bring a lot of intensity and consistency. But there is stuff I’ve been able to get away with in Prep that I won’t be able to get away with in college, so it’ll just help me develop as a player.”
Kreider has never been to Madison Square Garden, or even to Manhattan, just yet, though he might get that opportunity next week. The Rangers will hold a week-long camp for their prospects, including Kreider and last year’s first-round pick Michael Del Zotto
, at the MSG Training Center in Westchester.
However, the speedy winger is already sounding like a real New Yorker.
When asked by a reporter who he will cheer for when the Red Sox and Yankees next meet up on the baseball diamond, Kreider was quick with his answer.
“The Yankees, no question.”
If Kreider can adapt to the NHL as quickly as he is to becoming a New Yorker, then the Rangers will truly have a special talent on their hands for many years to come.