Why this Rangers star may regress in 2023-24

New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) skates with the puck against the San Jose Sharks during the third period at Madison Square Garden

While being a relatively young team, the New York Rangers have a handful of experienced veterans leading their top six. The current longest-tenured Ranger, Chris Kreider, has played for the team since the 2012-2013 season. Throughout the last decade, Kredier has had his ups and downs, fluctuating in points almost every year.

It was the 2021-2022 season where Kreider shined brightest, scoring 52 goals and 25 assists for 77 points. However, last season the veteran forward only tallied 36 goals and 18 assists for 54 points. This leaves many fans wondering if Kredier simply had a down year, or if his skills are beginning to regress with age.

Kreider has been inconsistent his entire career

Despite a significant drop in points last season, this trend is nothing out of the ordinary for Kreider. Throughout his decade-long tenure with the Rangers, his point totals have varied immensely from year to year. His final season statistics usually range somewhere between 30-50 points, but even a 20-point difference is rather drastic for a fully established NHL forward.

Excluding the shortened COVID season, the largest point differences from Kreider came during the 2021-22 season and this past season. The Rangers did not expect Kreider to repeat his 77-point 2021-22 season, with that showing being his career-high by a large margin. But to drop all the way down to 54 points in 2022-23 was a regression unlike any other by Kreider in the past.

It’s still important to remember that, despite this regression, Kreider is still playing some of the best hockey of his life.

“Although it may come as no surprise to longtime fans who have watched Chris Kreider grow into the club’s unofficial leader, he appears to be at the peak of his goal-scoring career. In the last three seasons, he’s tallied 108 goals, which is almost as many goals (117) as he had in the previous five seasons leading up to it. “

via Forever Blueshirts

Rangers new first line could affect Kredier’s point totals

The departures of Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Kane opens spots in the top six for the Rangers. With Kaapo Kakko being the likely candidate to fill the first-line role, it appears that Kreider and Mika Zibanejad will have a new linemate.

Kreider and Zibanejad have played well together for years, building what might be the best chemistry on the Rangers. Without Zibanejad as his center, Kreider would most likely not score as many goals as he has over recent seasons. It will be interesting to see how playing with a young star like Kakko will affect this chemistry.

If Kakko fails to break out like HC Peter Laviolette expects him to, it will be difficult for both Kreider and Zibanejad to produce as many goals as they have in the past. After dropping from 52 to 36 goals in just one season, Kreider’s season total could drop even lower this year if the line does not connect properly. Hopefully, Kakko will fit right in and the points will keep flowing from the first line.

Kreider’s age will become a factor soon

At 32 years old, Kreider is one of the older players on the Rangers. Even though his stats dropped significantly last season, 54 points in 79 games is still a respectable total for an NHL player. While Kreider is still playing at an elite level, only time will tell if his age will begin to cause these totals to drop.

As of now, Rangers fans can only hope that this drop from Kreider is another moment in his inconsistency cycle and that the totals will rise again next season. At his age, it won’t be long before he loses his speed and endurance, two of Kreider’s best attributes. As long as Kakko property adjusts to the first line and Kreider continues to fight off the test of time, there is no reason why he shouldn’t see a stat increase once again in the 2023-2024 season.

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