In the days leading up to the 2009 NHL draft, the New York Rangers' brass huddled inside a room at Montreal's Le Crystal Hotel as they deliberated over a handful of players worthy of their first-round pick. The final discussion hinged on whether to use the selection to draft a forward, prep school standout Chris Kreider, or a defenseman, Swedish blueliner Tim Erixon.
In those internal discussions, there was initial reluctance to take Kreider. The promising young player possessed unquestionable speed and skill, but he wasn't coming up through the well-combed junior hockey system. A player that dominated at even the most elite prep school program could be difficult to project.
"We had this guy who was lightning-fast and strong as an ox, but he was playing against lower-level teams," said Rangers director of player personnel Gordie Clark.
Ultimately, that wasn't enough to dissuade the Rangers' scouting staff, and good thing.
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