Rangers recall winger Chris Kreider

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Coach John Tortorella admitted a day earlier that the New York Rangers had discussed summoning Chris Kreider from the minors.

After weighing its options, the team decided to bring him back up Wednesday.

The Rangers have officially recalled Kreider, a 21-year-old winger. Fourth-line bruiser Micheal Haley was sent to the Connecticut Whale.

Kreider has been a curious case for the Rangers this season as a player that management has observed closely and carefully and a prospect that has fired up a fan base pleading for an injection of offense.

After a breakout NHL debut in the 2012 Eastern Conference quarterfinals, Kreider has struggled to make a similar impact this season. In 11 games, he was limited to one goal and one assist. He battled through an ankle injury and was a healthy scratch for four games. Most importantly, he seemed to lack the confidence and purpose that propelled him to be such an effective contributor last spring.

Wary of bungling his development, the Rangers sent the former Boston College standout to the minors, where he scored six goals in the past eight games.

Despite a three-goal outburst in their most recent win -- a 3-2 victory over the Devils on Tuesday night -- the Rangers rank 27th in the league with a paltry average of 2.31 goals per game. Only Nashville, San Jose and Columbus have scored fewer goals per game.

"We're dying to get a guy that's 6-foot-3 that can skate like hell into our lineup," Tortorella said before Tuesday's game, "but we're not going to do it at [Kreider's] expense."

Apparently, the Rangers feel he is ready for another crack at the top level.

The Rangers don't want to be yanking him in and out of the lineup or bouncing him to and from the minors, so expect them to give Kreider an extended stint to prove he belongs. The organization still views him as one of its most valuable assets as a heady winger with size and speed, but Tortorella has seemed dissatisfied with Kreider's intensity level and tenacity this season.

By comparison, Tortorella almost always lauds rookie J.T. Miller's "swagger" and "confidence" to be a difference-maker, even though Tortorella often chastises Miller for making bone-headed plays as well.

Sounds like there is room for both young players, as the Rangers need all the offense they can get.

The Rangers passed the Devils to claim eighth place in the East but sit at 32 points with three other teams in the standings. Thursday is their first opportunity to create separation, as they host the downtrodden Florida Panthers (15th place) before closing out the weekend with a game against the 14th-place Washington Capitals.