Larry Brooks at the New York Post reports that Chris Kreider could start the season in Hartford if he doesn't impress in the preseason finale against the Kings tonight in Las Vegas.
Brooks bases that thought on Alain Vigneault's quote after last night's 5-0 loss to the Canucks…
“A lot of players are close but really haven’t shown me they can play at this level on a consistent basis,” Vigneault said. “There are still guys [with a chance] who are going to play [against the Kings] but they have to play better.”
…there's absolutely no doubt that Kreider has played himself from on the roster to at the very least onto the bubble. It hasn't helped his cause that fellow first round pick Miler has outplayed him since returning from his hamstring injury.
…i still think despite his uneven play this preseason, he ultimately makes the team. He has regular season experience and has produced on the biggest stage (aka the playoffs). And whether you like it or not, I think the fact that he's a former first rounder gives him a leg up as the Rangers organization would hate to have two of them (McIlrath) not living up to expectations in the AHL.
…having said all that, I feel he'll have a short leash. If he does make the opening night roster over the other youngsters fighting for a spot and doesn't produce, I don't think AV will have any problem looking to a guy like Fast or Hrivik to replace him in the line-up.