- Posted: 2:11 PM, April 10, 2012
“If he comes, we’ll welcome him with open arms,” the Rangers center told The Post following Tuesday’s practice. “He skated with us [in informal workouts] before camp opened, he’s a good kid, and if he can come in here and wants to help us, why not?
“It’s got to be tough for him, too. It’s the biggest decision of his life up to this point. But if he comes, we’ll make him feel at home.”
Kreider, the 19th overall selection in the 2009 Entry Draft out of Phillips Academy in Andover (Mass.), has burned the first year of his three-year entry-level contract by signing and joining the Rangers for what is believed an annual cap hit of what would be $1.3 million including bonuses.
The 6-3, 220-pound player who will turn 21 on April 30, had been in informal talks with the Rangers since returning to Boston after the Eagles won the NCAA title Saturday in Tampa by defeating Ferris State. It marked Kreider’s second national championship in his three years at Boston College.
There are no immediate plans for or expectations attached to Kreider, who recorded 45 points (22-23) this year while playing his best in big moments. He impressed everyone in the Rangers front office as pro-ready following a 24-point (11-13) sophomore season, with general manager Glen Sather telling The Post on Feb. 28 the club intended to and expected to sign him.
Derek Stepan, the Rangers second-year center out of Wisconsin, was Kreider’s teammate on Team USA's 2010 gold medal-winning World Junior Championship squad.
“In addition to playing with him, I played against him twice in two years at school and watched him pretty closely because I knew he was a Rangers’ guy,” Stepan told The Post in February. “He is a great skater and his speed is incredible, that’s obviously the first thing you notice about him, but he’s also extremely smart.
“He’s strong on the puck, he sees the game really well, and combining his sense of anticipation with his speed and quickness, that makes him so dangerous.”
Boyle, selected 26th overall in the first round of the 2003 Entry Draft by the Kings, chose to return to Boston College for his senior year despite an NHL contract offer. He did so to seek the national championship after losing the national semifinal as a freshman and the final as a junior.
But after losing to Wisconsin 2-1 in 2006, Boston College was beaten again in the final in Boyle’s senior year, this time 3-1 by Michigan State.
“I went back to win, and when we didn’t I was devastated,” said Boyle, who joined the Kings’ AHL Manchester affiliate for the final couple of games of the regular season and the playoffs at the conclusion of the Frozen Four. “He’s a junior, but he won.”
Now Kredier is set to begin skating with a team that has added two players from the outside (Anton Stralman as a free agent in early November and John Scott from Chicago at the Feb. 27 trade deadline) since the season opened in Stockholm.
There is no guarantee Kreider will be able to meet the demands of NHL playoff hockey, much less the demands of coach John Tortorella.
Tony Amonte came directly out of Boston University and Doug Weight directly out of Lake Superior State to play for coach Roger Neilson's Rangers in the 1991 playoffs, with Amonte playing Games 5 and 6 (getting an assist in each contest) and Weight playing Game 6 against the Capitals in the series the Rangers lost in six games.
That, however, was generations of hockey ago.
“I have no idea what that jump would be like [for Kreider], but with what’s at stake, if the coach thinks you can play and your number is called, you go,” Boyle said. “If you’re in this locker room, you’re part of the team.
“Whoever is a part of it is a part of it.”
Beginning Wednesday, Kreider is a part of it.