Chris Kreider leads small group of NCAA prospects for New York Rangers

By Leslie Treff
Photo: Upon completing a junior season in which he was among the top players in all of NCAA hockey, Chris Kreider signed an entry-level deal with the New York Rangers. (Photo courtesy of Patrick Green/ Icon SMI)

With last Saturday's National Championship win, the 2011-12 NCAA season ended for Rangers' prospects. New York's top prospect, Chris Kreider, and his Boston College Eagles defeated the Ferris State Bulldogs by a score of 4-1. Then, after returning to Chestnut Hill for celebrations and a couple of last days of classes, Kreider signed a contract and joined the Rangers to prepare for the NHL playoffs. The Blueshirts' only other NCAA prospect, Danny Hobbs, had his season end earlier in the NCAA playoffs, suffering a broken wrist in the Hockey East Quarterfinal Series.

This season there were four skaters on the Rangers' reserve list that took the ice in Europe. Two of them, Jesper Fasth and Oscar Lindberg, must be signed to professional contracts by June 2012, or New York will lose their rights.

NCAA

Chris Kreider, LW/RW, Boston College Eagles (Hockey East)
Drafted 1st round, 19th overall, 2009

It has been a busy week for Kreider, who has just completed an impressive junior season with the Boston College Eagles. After winning the national championship in Tampa last weekend, he signed an entry-level contract with the Rangers on Tuesday. Now with the Rangers, Kreider could play his first NHL game this week. During his collegiate 2011-12 season, Kreider led all Eagles' players in scoring, posting 45 points (23 goals, 22 assists) in 43 games. A big, strong, fast winger, Kreider is expected to be a regular in New York next season.

Danny Hobbs, C, University of Massachusetts Minutemen (Hockey East)
Drafted 7th round, 198th overall, 2007

Hobbs had a breakout junior season (28 points in 31 games during 2010-11) and much was expected from him during the 2011-12 campaign. Named co-captain of the UMass Minutemen, more responsibility was placed on Hobbs for this season. He did not get off to a fast start, however, this past fall. He did play better as the season went along, but his numbers (24 points in 32 games) did not positively build on last year's performance. It did not help that Hobbs broke his wrist in the first game against Boston College in the Hockey East Quarterfinals. Although it is possible that the Rangers may offer Hobbs an entry-level contract, it is more likely that he will be signed to an AHL deal.

Europe

Jesper Fasth, RW/LW, HV 71 Jonkoping (SEL)
Drafted 6th round, 157th overall, 2010

 

At 20 years old, Fasth was off to an excellent start to the 2011-12 season with HV 71 (16 points in 21 games) when he sustained a major foot injury. The injury kept him out for most of the season, but he was able to return toward the end of the season and contribute in the playoffs. Signed to a two-year extension with HV71, he is expected to play another season in Europe. However, the Rangers must sign Fasth to an entry-level contract in the next two months or lose their rights to him. What that will involve is likely giving Fasth a bonus while having him play in Europe for another season, with no assurance that he will play for the Rangers in the fall of 2013. Although that is a big risk, it is expected that New York will do just that, as Fasth has excellent offensive upside.

Oscar Lindberg, C, Skelleftea HC (SEL)
Trade with Phoenix Coyotes May 8th, 2011

Lindberg did not improve upon his previous numbers during the 2011-12 regular season (10 points in 46 games), but he has contributed some in the playoffs (two assists in 12 games). Skelleftea is in the SEL finals, and according to the Rangers, the experience Lindberg is getting is excellent, and his development is on target. Projected to be a second- to third-line player in the NHL, the Rangers are looking for Lindberg to develop into a mostly defensive forward. New York must sign Lindberg to an entry-level contract within the next months or the Rangers will lose their rights to him. If he does sign an ELC, Lindberg is likely to hone his skills with the AHL Connecticut Whale during the 2012-13 season.

Mikhail Pashnin, D, CSKA Moscow (KHL)
Drafted 7th round, 200th overall, 2009

The Rangers were very disappointed when Pashnin decided to forego signing an NHL entry-level deal last summer. The Rangers had been in negotiation with him for some time, and instead, Pashnin signed a two-year extension with CSKA Moscow. During 2011-12 season, Pashnin, a defensive defenseman, posted five points in 50 games with CSKA Moscow. Although he will remain on the Rangers' reserve list indefinitely, he is expected to remain in Russia for at least the next season. The Rangers are not actively pursuing him at the current time.

David Kveton, RW, Trinec Ocelari HC (Czech Extraliga)
Drafted 4th round, 104th overall, 2006

 

Kveton skated for the QMJHL Gatineau Olympiques for a portion of one season, but for most of his career he has played in the Czech Republic. Kveton has remained with one team, Trinec Ocelari HC, since the 2007-08 season. At one time, when he was scoring on approximately a point a game pace in Europe and the Rangers were very interested in bringing him to North America. However, the Blueshirts were unwilling to give Kveton a guarantee that he would play at the NHL level.

Kveton's production has declined significantly over the last three seasons, including during the 2011-12 campaign, when he posted 29 points (14 goals, 15 assists) in 52 games. At this point, unless Kveton is willing to come to North America to play in the AHL, he is not likely to play within the Rangers organization.