ST. LOUIS — There are 31 days until the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline and 13 games for the Rangers to play before Feb. 24. Sometime in the next month Chris Kreider could be leaving the only NHL organization he’s ever known.
The 28-year-old Kreider is coming to the end of a four-year, $18.5 million deal he signed with the Rangers in 2016. He’s due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, which means if no extension is hammered out in the next 30 days he could be a valuable trade chip for general manager Jeff Gorton.
NHL teams are always on the look out for scoring forwards, and Kreider can provide goals on the wing for any suitor. He’s scored 17 times in 48 games this season and an injury to Rangers teammate Artemi Panarin opened the door for him to be his replacement on the Metropolitan Division All-Star roster this week.
Despite an uncertain future, Kreider isn’t focused on what might happen, he’s trying to help win games for the Rangers, who entered the break dropping three of their last five.
[MORE: NHL All-Star Game 2020: Rosters, schedule, jerseys, more]
“No challenge,” he said during NHL All-Star Media Day on Thursday. “You might not believe it but there’s no challenge. I’m just worried about winning hockey games. Winning solves a lot of problems. It’s the old adage and probably a little bit cliche, but we take it one day at a time, one game at a time and just try and get better. I think we are getting better. Our group’s worlds better than we were at the beginning of the year.”
With 34 games to go, the Rangers sit 11 points out of an Eastern Conference wild card spot. The team is currently in a transition phase getting younger and more skillful. But after the rich addition of Panarin last summer, the 2020-21 season is set to become one where making the playoffs is a priority. Kreider could be a part of that if both sides want to make that happen.
A year ago it was Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes, who were set to become UFAs, dealt away before the trade deadline to recoup assets. Kreider’s mind hasn’t gone down that road yet.
“I’ve only ever pictured myself in a Rangers jersey,” Kreider said, “and until I’m not a Ranger, I’m a Ranger.”
The 2020 NHL All-Star Skills Competition will take place on Friday, Jan. 24 (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN) and the 2020 NHL All-Star Game will be on Saturday, Jan. 25 (8 p.m. ET, NBC).
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.