The next big moves for the New York Rangers this summer are going to be dealing with restricted free agent forwards Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes. They both have arbitration hearings scheduled over the next week.
Kreider is first up on Friday, and on Wednesday we found out what the two sides are looking for going into it.
According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, as well as NHL analyst Aaron Ward, Kreider submitted an ask of $4.75 million, while the Rangers countered with an offer of $3.2 million.
Assuming the two sides don’t reach a new deal before Friday and the case goes to arbitration it is likely that the number will fall right in the middle of those two figures, which would be somewhere in the neighborhood of around $4 million.
Kreider is coming off of a two-year contract that paid him $2.457 million per season. He scored 21 goals both seasons.
Kreider is still two years away from being eligible for unrestricted free agency, while Brooks reports the two sides are currently trying to negotiate a four-or five-year contract. Given his age and production, his value right now should probably be in the same neighborhood of Washington’s Marcus Johansson (who just signed a three-year, $13.75 million deal on Wednesday) and New Jersey’s Kyle Palmeiri (he signed a five-year deal worth $4.65 million per season earlier this summer).
Following the trade of Derrick Brassard earlier this week to the Ottawa Senators, the Rangers should have more than enough cap space to get Kreider and Hayes signed and still remain well under the NHL’s salary cap for the season.
The risk the Rangers would run is the same any other team has when it comes to a short-term contract with a young player just starting to enter what should be his peak years like Kreider currently is. If it gets to arbitration and he only ends up with a one-year deal, there is the chance he could come back with a breakthrough the season that significantly drives up his price.
According to Brooks, the the gap between Kreider’s ask on a long-term deal and the Rangers’ offer is $500,000 per year, which should be relatively easy to close.
No matter what the Rangers do with Kreider they are still going to be in a bit of a tough spot in the near future. Even though they have enough salary cap space in the short-term to keep everybody, it is still a team that has some flaws that need addressed.
Without making another major move they may not be able to adequately address them.