Vigneault: Kreider looks 'quick' and 'sharp'

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- With the Rangers missing three key forwards and lacking any sort of offensive punch, Chris Kreider's recent recall might be his best opportunity yet to prove he belongs.

The 22-year-old winger, who was sent down to the American Hockey League after what coach Alain Vigneault deemed an "average" training camp, will get the chance to play with the team's elite. He will have the opportunity to put his speed, size and skill to use for a club that seems to desperately need all three.

"I think right now on our team, the players we have out, that's what we need right now," Vigneault said, referencing the injuries to captain Ryan Callahan and wingers Rick Nash and Carl Hagelin.

Vigneault said Kreider looked both "quick" and "sharp" upon his return from Hartford, where he had two goals and four points in six games for the Wolf Pack.

The former first-round pick (19th overall, 2009) skated on the wing with center Derek Stepan and alternate captain Brad Richards.

It's not certain that is where he will remain when the rangers travel to Philly to play the similarly downtrodden Flyers, but Kreider is keen to make an impression wherever he plays.

"I like to think I can play any role that they need me to. I think that's a consummate team player -- filling that hole that they need to fill," Kreider said. "I'd like to think I can do that and do whatever it takes to help the team win."

In the past, Kreider has struggled to carve out a consistent role with the big club. Though he had a dazzling debut in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, he was inconsistent during the lockout-shortened 2013 season. He got off to a strong start at training camp in September but later faltered to the point of missing the cut for the team's opening day roster.

That won't be a point worth belaboring, as Kreider approaches this opportunity as a brand-new shot at helping the team turn things around.

"I think having a short-term memory is a big part of this profession," he said.