Kreider lands with Rangers
Boxford speedster taken 19th overall
MONTREAL - Chris Kreider has never been inside Madison Square Garden. In fact, the promising left winger from Boxford, Mass., has never been to Manhattan.
“Hopefully, that will change soon,’’ he said, not long after the Rangers selected Kreider last night with the 19th pick overall in the draft. “New York’s the greatest city in the world. I’m on a good team . . . an Original Six team.’’
Kreider, who is headed to Boston College in September, was ranked the 14th-best skater in North American by the league’s Central Scouting Bureau. The Rangers picked him immediately after the Canadiens chose a Montreal kid, Louis Leblanc (headed to Harvard this fall), at No. 18. The Habs were slow to get to the podium to make their choice and it could be they were torn between a homeboy and the 6-foot-2-inch Kreider.
“This is an elite, elite athlete,’’ said the Rangers’ Gordie Clark, a former Bruins assistant coach and New York’s director of player personnel. “He’s elite physically and mentally. He’s ripped. He blew right through the combine in Toronto.’’
Clark figures that Kreider will play only one or two years at BC before he turns pro.
“He’s a one- or two-year player wherever he goes,’’ Clark said. “He has [Alexander ] Mogilny-type speed. He’s almost what you’d call a rover out there, he’s so fast. From point A to B, he’s the quickest guy in the draft.’’
The increase, less than 2 percent, in theory makes available another $3 million in salaries for the upcoming campaign. However, very few teams spend to the ceiling, making the increase more a matter of appearance. Had the players not elected to add their 5 percent salary “booster,’’ as they are allowed by the collective bargaining agreement, the cap would have been trimmed by a little more than $2.5 million.
The Bruins have right around $50 million committed for next season and still need to sign Phil Kessel, Matt Hunwick, and Byron Bitz as key roster players. GM Peter Chiarelli also would like to consider making an offer to veteran winger Mark Recchi, but all signings are in abeyance until the Kessel, Hunwick, and Bitz deals are finalized.
If that was the offer, it became a moot point when Lupul was sent to Anaheim in the deal that brought Chris Pronger to the Flyers. The Ducks also added top defensive prospect Luca Sbisa and two first-round picks in the deal.
Lupul, the seventh pick in the 2002 draft by Anaheim, was well liked by then-GM Brian Burke. The Flyers, perenially among the league’s biggest spenders, are in need of trimming back their cap commitments.
Now that the Flyers have acquired Pronger, it could mean unrestricted free agent Andrew Alberts, a former Bruins blue liner, will not return to Philly. Pronger fills one very big job back there, and also earns $6.25 million. He also will become an unrestricted free agent July 1, 2010, unless the Flyers extend his contract.
Lupul was one of the players Burke sent to Edmonton in 2006 when he made the trade to bring Pronger to the Ducks.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.