With the NHL trade deadline getting close (February 24, 3 p.m. ET) the Pro Hockey Talk crew will be taking a closer look at some individual players that could be on the move. Today we focus on New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider.
Player: Chris Kreider
Current Team: New York Rangers
Contract Status: Unrestricted free agent this season with a $4.625 million salary cap number.
Why the Rangers might trade him: The Rangers are 10 points out of a playoff spot and have several teams ahead of them. They are out of it. They are also still in the middle of a rebuild while Kreider is an unrestricted free agent after this season. There is always the possibility they could still see him as a long-term piece and work to re-sign him (they are going to have talks), but he turns 29 years old in April and committing long-term to him at his likely salary could be a risky move. He’s still good now, but how good will he be in a couple of years, and will he be worth the price tag for them?
Teams that could/should have interest: Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers, Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers
What he provides: He is still a first-line player. He is fast, he plays with the type of edge that teams look for in the playoffs (especially around goalies), and he makes an impact at both even-strength and on the power play. He is on pace for 30 goals this season while his overall production has not slowed down over the past few years. You know you’re going to get at least 25 goals and 50 points from him. Among the 280 forwards that have logged at least 500 minutes of 5-on-5 ice-time this season, Kreider ranks among the top-60 in goals and points per 60 minutes played. There is not another potential rental available that produces at such a level. He will make any team he is on better.
The Penguins need a top-six winger to replace Jake Guentzel. The Blues are in the market for a similar player to make a repeat run at the Stanley Cup. The Bruins and Oilers could use secondary scoring beyond their top line, while the Blue Jackets need offense of any kind. The same is true for the Islanders. The problem there: The Islanders and Rangers have not made a trade since the 2010 season when Rangers acquired Jyri Niemi for a sixth-round pick. That trade was their first one since the Islanders’ inaugural season in 1973. There is not much precedent to think they have any interest in a trade with each other.
Predicted destination: The Boston Bruins strike again at the deadline and send a first-round pick and a prospect to the Rangers. It is a package similar to the one the Rangers received for Kevin Hayes at the deadline a year ago.