New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider isn’t any closer to contract negotiation with his club and that’s likely setting the table for a deadline deal.
There’s about a month to go until the trade deadline and the Rangers are sitting seventh in the Metropolitan Division with 50 points. Their 23-21-4 record has them 10 points behind the Philadelphia Flyers, but nine ahead of the basement-occupying New Jersey Devils.
28-year-old Kreider is New York’s best bargaining chip for their ongoing rebuild. He’s due to become an unrestricted free agent come July 1 and is ringing up a $4.625 million cap hit for the Blueshirts, amounting to $4 million in actual salary.
Kreider’s impending status puts him on the market as a high-value rental player and the lack of negotiations on the contract front all but assures he’ll be a deadline deal target.
Kreider does have a modified no-trade clause on his contract, giving him the right to call off a deal to 11 clubs.
The Boxford native will have a chance to get a few extra eyeballs on him, as he’s skating at the All-Star weekend after being named the replacement for injured teammate Artemi Panarin. Kreider’s on pace for the best season of his career, with 32 points in 48 games – including 17 goals.
Kreider’s career high to date came in 2016-2017, where he put together 53 points in 75 games. He has 150 goals and 153 assists in 508 career games, all with New York. He was drafted by the Rangers in the first round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, going 19th overall.
And for now, that’s where his head is.
“I’m just worried about winning hockey games,” said Kreider. “Winning solves a lot of problems. It’s the old adage and probably a little bit cliché, but we’re taking it one day at a time, one game at a time and just trying to get better — and I think we are getting better. I think our group’s worlds better than we were at the beginning of the year.”
According to reports, the Colorado Avalanche, Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, and St. Louis Blues are among those interested in his services. Time will tell what materializes, but with no forward momentum on the contract front, you have to imagine general manager Jeff Gorton will be in the mood to deal come February.
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