What Chris Kreider's Breakout Season Means for the Rangers

Kreider has come into this season with an upgraded style of play. How has this change benefited the New York Rangers?

When drafted out of Boston College with the 19th overall selection in the 2009 NHL Draft, Chris Kreider was given very high expectations by the New York Rangers.

Almost right away, Kreider showed signs of becoming a star, which gave the media the ability to assume that, given his size and strength, Kreider would consistently score 30-plus goals a season. This however, was not the case over the first two seasons of his career, where he scored 17 and 21 goals, respectively.

These totals were impressive, but given his natural ability and attributes, more was expected from the Boxford, Massachusetts native. At the start of the 2015-16 campaign, Kreider was beginning to show more of the tenacity and speed that he had shown in his days under Jerry York, but injury and drought led him again to another 21-goal season. At the young age of 24 that was just not enough for the future New York star.

A New Kreider

If the coaching of Alain Vigneault since the Rangers' Stanley Cup run in 2014 has done one thing, it has awoken the sleeping beast that is Kreider.

As we brought in the 2016-17 season, we saw an entirely new Kreider. New line mates Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich have created the perfect combination of players who match the speed that Kreider has been waiting to unleash.

He is on pace currently for 36 goals and 66 points, which are both marks that Kreider has never reached as a player in the NHL. Through this entire season, Kreider has performed at an above average level, and has begun to show the dominance that was expected of him.

In 40 games played this season, Kreider has amassed 18 goals. Meaning that some point in the near future, he will surpass his career high and potentially reach that elusive 30-goal season that has been expected from him.

Aside from goal scoring, Kreider has above average possession metrics on ice with a Corsi For % at 54.4%, and his WOWY charts (With Or Without You) from Corsica show that almost every player with given ice time data performs better with Kreider rather than without him.

As you can see, Kreider's play in most cases has only enhanced the performance of his teammates, and that alone gives us the ability to call him an impact player.

Kreider, like impact players for other teams (Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars, Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, and Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins), could single-handedly be the reason that the Rangers find playoff success in the 2016-17 season (aside from Henrik Lundqvist, of course).

Our algorithm sees the Rangers as 0.68 goals better than an average NHL team so far this season, fifth-best in the NHL. Our model also sees the Rangers winning the Stanley Cup 8.28% of the time, also fifth in the league.

Kreider, as evidenced by his breakout season, is a big reason why.