Huge decision awaits Kreider

Updated: March 30, 2012, 5:55 PM ET
By Craig Custance

The life of a college hockey player is quite different from the lives of those playing in the NHL. Sometimes we forget. Boston College star and New York Rangers prospect Chris Kreider is getting ready for one of the biggest games of his career next week, when his Eagles take on Minnesota at the Frozen Four on Thursday in Tampa, Fla.

After the tournament is decided, he'll be faced with one of the biggest decisions of his life; the Rangers will no doubt approach him about signing an entry-level deal. It's entirely possible that, if BC loses Thursday, Kreider could be in the Rangers' lineup on Saturday in their regular-season finale. A chance to burn a year off his entry-level deal could be enticement enough for him to leave college early.

In the midst of it all, he's still a college student. This week, he took three tests and had to turn in half of a 20-page paper in his Communication in the Workplace class. He's writing on the culture surrounding NFL locker rooms and received an unexpected bit of help from the Saints' bounty controversy.

It's a lot for a 20-year-old to handle. Most Americans that age would look at a loaded academic schedule weighed against the opportunity to make real money while chasing an NHL dream and be on the first train to New York. But not Kreider.

"No, no, no; I want to get my degree," he said by phone Friday afternoon. "I want to finish with a good GPA."

He's not thinking about anything but classes and his upcoming game against Minnesota, but his is a situation that Rangers fans should be following closely. He has a chance not only to help immediately but to become an important part of the Rangers' core group for the next several seasons.