Last week, just hours before the NHL Trade Deadline, the Rangers were able to finally come to an agreement on a new deal with Chris Kreider. It was pretty surprising that they got it done considering the fact that contract talks were going nowhere just days before the deadline.
Nonetheless, the two sides were able to reach an agreement that will keep Kreider under contract for the next seven seasons. This was a move that some loved and some hated but regardless, he is here to stay.
Kreider has been one of the Rangers most controversial players over his tenure in New York. He shows flashes of just complete and absolute dominance, like he was showing recently before suffering a fractured foot. But other times he goes invisible, unable to hit the score sheet or even have his named mentioned in the play by play. However, there is one aspect of Kreider’s play that remains the same under all circumstances. That would be his leadership.
You would be hard pressed to find a player who has been a better leader for this club over the past decade. Sure, Ryan Callahan was great and we all loved Ryan McDonagh, but there is a certain element to Kreider’s game that makes him a more fearsome leader.
Kreider plays with more offensive aggression than either of the two former captains I just mentioned. He leads by example in such a way that if everyone could play the way Kreider did, the team would be terrifying. I think people tend to forget how good he CAN be and those leadership qualities he brings to the table, instead focusing only on the stretches during which he struggles.
Despite these qualities though, I do have some reservations. I have always believed that your captain should play with the utmost consistency. If you are leading by example but cannot stay consistent, what message are you sending to your team? Especially your younger players.
Consistency is so underrated in today’s game. Many people don’t realize how important of an aspect it is to the success of a team. It is one thing that can separate many players from others. This is why I could see someone else take that role.
I would say he deserves to be captain if there wasn’t someone on the team who deserves it more. That guy is Mika Zibanejad. Yes, Kreider has been on this team for far longer than Zibanejad. However, Mika has been nothing but potent, consistent, vocal, and exemplary in his time with the Rangers. In addition, he is improving rapidly. The numbers he is putting up are enough to start categorizing him as an elite player in the league if he continues his good play.
When it comes down to it, how much value a player brings to a team is what should determine their captaincy. Artemi Panarin is the most valuable player to this team but he is not in the captain conversation, so that point is irrelevant for this discussion.
As good as Kreider can be, Zibanejad is simply more valuable to this team and that is why he should and likely will be given the “C”. Kreider will absolutely wear an “A” though for the rest of his time in New York. And no matter what letter he wears, he will be one of our toughest leaders for years to come.