Prior to the deadline, many New York Rangers were mentioned in trade rumors including Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes.
Zuccarello has gone on record stating he knew his days in New York were numbered as far back as last summer. When no extension was reached and he began this season on an expiring contract, the writing was on the wall. It was only a question of when the beloved Norwegian winger would be traded, not if. Unfortunately, the looming question of where the winger was being dealt didn’t do him any favors. So, early in the year, Zuccarello’s play suffered because he was struggling due to all of the rumors floating around.
This example of Zuccarello struggling with an impending trade is a cautionary tale of what could happen with the powerful skating winger, Kreider. Kreider has one year remaining on his contract, and is on pace for a 30+ goal season. As of March 7th, Kreider is currently sitting on 26 goals and 48 points. His 48 points are a career high and his 26 goals are two away his current career high (28) set in the 16-17 season. In all likelihood, Kreider will break 30 goals for the first team in his career in the Rangers remaining 16 games. The odds are pretty good that he’ll score 4 goals in 16 games.
Trade Or Extend?
The decision to extend or trade Kreider should be made before the 2019 NHL Draft. If the Rangers do not plan on extending their second leading soccer (currently) and decide to trade him, they should trade him on draft day, to avoid having another player struggle with the emotional toll of an impending trade for months.
Kreider, coming off a 30 goal season (hypothetically) would be worth a lot in a trade, especially on draft day, when more teams can compete for his services. A 30 goal scorer would be worth a first round pick, a decent prospect, and even potentially a younger roster player yet to find his way in the NHL. Kreider could also be packaged with Winnipeg’s 1st round pick (acquired in the Hayes’ trade) to move into the top 10 of the draft. Kreider has a ton of trade value, it just depends on if GM Jeff Gorton wants to trade him or extend him.
If Gorton decides to extend Kreider, it would have to be long term deal. At age 27, Kreider is likely looking for a deal in the 6-8 year range. Kreider, on the open market, could probably fetch a 7 year deal upwards of 7 million per. If he is to extend with the Rangers, Jeff Gorton could offer Kreider an 8th year, but lower the cap hit to 6 or 6.5 million per year.
What Would I Do?
In my opinion, Kreider is worth too much to the Rangers on the ice to trade, especially because a team needs to have some veterans and experienced players for leadership roles. Plus, trading away a 30 goal scorer, regardless of the rebuilding status of the team, seems likely to hurt more than help New York. The Rangers do need players who can score and make them fun to watch until this rebuild is over.
stats from hockey-reference.com and NHL.com
featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals