Similar to a couple years ago, Kreider & the Rangers lengthen their relationship right before their scheduled arbitration hearing. No fan can possibly complain about the AAV here. The expected range was closer to $5M per & Jeff Gorton got it done for significantly less. Well done. Would’ve loved another year or two, but I have no issue with the compromise. Larry Brooks reported Kreider’s camp were the ones who wanted less term & therefore agreed to less money – interesting tactic. Shows me that Kreider is betting heavily on himself & cashing in big time in a prime UFA year (although it’s expected to be a lockout year as well). I’m all for a player inking a team-friendly deal for his mid-late 20’s. Now we wait & see which Chris Kreider signed on the dotted line.
Is it the Chris Kreider everyone’s expected to break out as one of the top power forwards in the league the past two seasons? There’s not too many NHLers with his combination of strength, size & speed. Still, Kreider’s fallen short of expectations despite those gifts. A pair of 20-goal/45-point seasons are OK as a floor – but #20 needs to prove he can stay mentally sharp & show more consistency. He left fans scratching their heads through the All Star break before salvaging a respectable stat line with 12 goals in his last 33 games – which could be a blessing. If Kreider finally plays to his potential, which is a lightning-fast indestructible tank capable of 30 goals & 200 hits, this contract is straight up robbery. Without succumbing to a no-move/full no-trade clause, the price is still reasonable enough for him to be a valuable trade chip if he continues to be a “what if” player.
Granted they’ve yet to do much to help with the defense in front of Hank, but the Blueshirts have made the most of what was expected to be a quiet off-season. With only Kevin Hayes left to lock up (reports are he’s dropped 10 pounds & is in great shape which I thought was his biggest issue), the Rangers have kept all their young, promising forward pieces while shedding their aging ones. Rick Nash is the only rostered forward expected to get a top-12 spot who is over 29 years old. SEVEN are 25 or younger while Stepan is just 26.
They added cheap speed in Grabner & Gerbe, swapped soon-to-be-29 year-old Brass for 23 year-old Zibanejad and moved on from 30-and-overs like Dom Moore, Eric Staal, Viktor Stalberg and Tanner Glass (who I have to assume they’ll waive). There’s plenty of reasons for optimism when you look at guys like Zib, JT, Hayes & Kreider all with the ability to be exceptional forwards alongside Stepan, Nash & Zucc. And don’t forget the Russian wild card Pavel Buchnevich. Now it’s just a matter of which kids are ready to answer the bell. For Chris Kreider, it has to be immediately.
Kevin Hayes just signed a 2-year bridge deal for $2.6M per. Since that’s the last arbitration case for the Rangers, they’ll have another 48-hour buyout window starting Monday. If what the team has said was true, don’t get your hopes up on seeing Girardi out – but say an extra prayer for it.