Projecting Chris Kreider’s next contractJune 19, 2014, by
Chris Kreider is one of five RFAs for the Rangers this year, but he is one of the two most important RFAs that the Rangers need to get signed. It was very apparent in the playoffs that the Rangers missed Kreider’s rare combination of size, speed, and hands until his return in the Pittsburgh series. Kreider is coming off his entry-level deal that paid him $900,000 in base salary. However, this season was just his first full year at the NHL level.
Kreider’s success isn’t something new, he excelled during his first year in the 2011-2012 playoff run. His defensive shortcomings were overshadowed by his production, but they could not be overshadowed throughout the lockout shortened 2013 season. His style of play (note: defensive issues) were not a fit for John Tortorella, and he was even cut by Alain Vigneault to start the 2013-2014 season. However, he found his place and his game and finished the season with a 17-20-37 line in 66 games. He was nearly a point-per-game in this year’s playoff run, putting up 5-8-13 in 15 games.
Finding a comparable for Kreider is a bit tough. He comes with the pedigree of being a first round pick, but he doesn’t have the numbers to support that pedigree at the moment. To find a comparable, I looked for players that put up similar numbers to Kreider in their entry-level deal and similar numbers in their contract year. I only came up with three, and one of these names should be very familiar.
Artem Anisimov was a second round pick for the Rangers, and put up a line of 18-26-44 in the final year of his ELC. He didn’t have the large initial contract, but he did parlay it into a two-year deal at a $1.875 million cap hit. He’s a bit of a stretch for a comparison though, as he played two successful years in New York before his deal expired in 2011. Anisimov signed his new deal when the cap was at $64 million (expected to be $70 million, or 10% higher, for 2014-2015).
Anisimov’s current teammate Cam Atkinson was another comparable I found, although he lacks the size and skill set of Kreider. Atkinson struggled in his first year before putting up 9-9-18 in 35 games in the lockout shortened 2013 season, the final season on his ELC. That’s as close as we are going to get in terms of on-ice production. Atkinson turned his $837,500 salary into a two-year deal at $1.15 million. I think this is a bit low for Kreider.
The final comparable I could find, and perhaps the most accurate, is Andrew Shaw in Chicago. Shaw signed a contract extension in November, during the final year of his ELC (this season). Shaw played a season and a half in The Show before inking his two-year extension at $2 million, and rewarded Chicago with a line of 20-19-39. Shaw’s extension falls right in line with the estimated $70 million cap for next season.
Internally, the closes comparable to Kreider is Carl Hagelin, who turned his ELC into a two-year deal at $2.25 million. Kreider has more offensive talent and potential, but Hagelin is clearly the better two-way forward.
Considering Glen Sather only hands out bridge deals to his RFAs, we should expect Kreider to get a two-year deal. Atkinson’s deal is too low for Kreider, but Hagelin’s may be a bit too high, as Hagelin had two successful years at the NHL level, not one. In the end, I’d imagine Kreider gets a Shaw deal, two years at around $2 million, give or take $250,000. It’s a nice bump for a kid that will need to prove himself to earn that next, big contract.