Rangers winger Chris Kreider is believed to be one of the top rental players in play between now and next month’s trade deadline. However, there’s always the possibility that New York turns around and tries to sign him to an extension. While it would seem like this is the time to get those discussions going, Larry Brooks of the New York Post reports that there have yet to be any substantive talks with Kreider’s representatives about a new deal.
While the 28-year-old isn’t a top scorer, he’s on pace for his third season of more than 50 points over the last four years. (The season he didn’t get there was in 2017-18 where he missed 24 games due to injury but produced at a 52-point pace.) That type of consistency is always going to be attractive to teams, as is his physicality which becomes even more important in the postseason. With that in mind, virtually every contender with cap room to work with should have interest in acquiring him. TSN’s Darren Dreger reported in the latest Insider Trading (video link) that GM Jeff Gorton is willing to retain up to the maximum 50% of Kreider’s cap hit if they do wind up going that route which opens up plenty of options.
However, with New York coming out of their rebuilding cycle, he’s also the type of player that makes sense to keep around. Finding the money to do so will be tricky though.
Kreider is certain to land a sizable raise on his current $4.625MM AAV. On the surface, a jump of $2MM or so shouldn’t be that difficult to make room for but there other factors at play. The buyout cap charge of Kevin Shattenkirk jumps from $1.483MM this season to $6.083MM in 2020-21, adding $4.6MM to next year’s cap already. Defenseman Anthony DeAngelo is in line for a substantial raise as a restricted free agent this summer with arbitration eligibility while forward Ryan Strome and Alexandar Georgiev are in need of new deals as well. With nearly $66MM in payroll commitments for next season already, that doesn’t leave a whole lot left to work with to re-sign everyone and round out the roster.
It’s reasonable to think that this could be playing a factor in the lack of discussions. There isn’t much point in getting into serious talks until they know for certain that they can actually afford to re-sign Kreider. Presumably, Gorton will want to get a sense of what it will cost for an extension – if for no other reason to answer the inquiry from other general managers as to what the asking price is – which will likely stall any trade discussions for a while yet. Things can change quite quickly as the deadline approaches but as things stand, it certainly seems like Kreider will be in another uniform no more than six weeks from now.