Mailbag: Cases for and against re-signing Chris Kreider

The NY Rangers have a tough decision to make with Chris Kreider

Two very similar questions for the mailbag this week. As always, use the widget on the right to submit your questions.

Lee asks: Is there a realistic scenario in which the Rangers re-sign Chris Kreider? He’s needed on this team and should be the captain.

I’m all aboard the Kreider for captain train, assuming he is re-signed. That’s a big IF right now, but the short answer here is that yes there is a realistic scenario in which Kreider is re-signed. The cap situation, especially with the Vlad Namestnikov trade positively impacting next year’s cap via fewer ELC bonus overages, is not as bad as folks make it out to be. The Rangers can afford Kreider at $7 million next season, even with $7.5 million in dead cap space due to buyouts. This does assume a Brendan Smith to Ottawa trade after his $1 million bonus is paid next summer, though.

As for his place on the team, I agree that he is needed on the team. There is so much Kreider does that isn’t accounted for on the score sheet, and his rare combination of speed, strength, and net-front presence is a matchup nightmare for the opposition. Kreider is also very clearly the only Ranger that not only gets in front of the net regularly, but is good in that role. His screens are great and lead to many goals, which again doesn’t really show up on the score sheet.

In terms of realism, it’s about how long the Rangers want to commit to a 2LW that will be 29 when his contract expires. If they see eye-to-eye on term and dollars, he will stay.

Carlos asks: Kreider has a lot of strengths, but he’s simply not a $7 million guy. He’s not a difference maker and hasn’t been able to elevate the second line at all.

Carlos brings the other side of the argument, which is valid as well. Kreider is being looked at to lead that second line with Ryan Strome and Kaapo Kakko, and they’ve looked relatively lost in the first two games. Grain of salt: It’s been two games and Strome has been awful all preseason. That line looked good when Filip Chytil was there for a hot second in the preseason.

NHL free agents get paid on track record and not on what they are going to produce going forward. It is exceedingly rare to get value out of UFA deals, and that’s where Kreider, at 29 years old next season, is headed. Market value may put him at $7 million, but term is always the question.

These are the kinds of contracts that ruin rebuilds if Jeff Gorton isn’t careful. There is no issue paying top dollar for elite or top of the lineup talent, the way he has for Artemi Panarin and Jacob Trouba. Kreider is not that top-end talent, failing to hit 30 goals and 60 points throughout his career. Despite him being a matchup nightmare and a physical and skating force that does a lot of little things right, he’s not that elite talent you overpay for.

Accepting what Kreider is an isn’t is going to be the hardest part for most fans. I am all aboard team Kreider and want him to retire a Ranger. However I am unwilling to go eight years at $7 million for him. Heck, I’d probably be unwilling to go six years at that dollar amount. If the Rangers can get him signed at that $7 million hit through his age-34 season (five years), then great! If not, then we need to take a long look at how that contract might impact the future contracts of expiring, high-end talent ELCs like Kakko, Vitali Kravtov, and others.

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  • I love the guy, but 4 years at $7M per is a lot of change. I think you do not do anything (even talking) until the all star break. You see if he still has the fire in his belly or if he continues to take off 10 games at a time.

    Question – would we be a better team with Hayes at the 2C and WITHOUT Krieder? I think so.

  • I think that a maximum term of 5 years is not outlandish. Kreider’s skills are such that they should not diminish much over that time span. I could not agree more with your assessments. Good points all.

  • Great points guy, my only issue is that with so much young talent here and on the way, the window isn’t here yet and when the window does open, Kreider will be a non factor. I’m sorry, he is just not worth this kind of money. We didn’t pay Hayes 7 million, why would we pay Kreider the same ??

  • 3 years from now Kakko, Kratsov, and Fox come off their ELC’s and will need new contracts. Considering how the RFA market played out this summer, I think we will want Kakko signed longer term to a big deal.(if he’ll do it) That’s going to take a lot of space. The others may get bridge deals, but that may not be the best approach if they are playing as expected.

    Not only will these 3 need new contracts in 3 years, but so will Zibanejab. (and he won’t be resigning at $5.350M per) I know we’re only 2 games in and Mika’s probably not going to produce 328 points this season, but he is turning into elite talent right before our eyes. He’s the Number 1 center we have coveted for years. And he’s going to cost a lot.

    Factor in Panarin, Trouba, Kakko and Zibenajab having big contracts…plus new deals for Kravtsov and Fox, can we afford Kreider? I think that’s the bigger question. And I actually think we can’t. But I could be wrong.

  • Rangers should be looking to acquire a young (cheap) forward that does some of those things Kreider is good at (net front presence, solid dzone defender) to more closely align with their competitive window. Kreider’s leadership may be the most missed aspect after he leaves, but that’s just not worth $7M. A big contract for his 30+ years just feels like a mistake.

  • Kreider is my favorite Ranger, and I’m appalled that he doesn’t have the C on his jersey. I’m guessing it’s the contract situation that’s keeping Quinn from giving him that distinction. That said, part of why I like him so much is tied into who the Rangers were five years ago. As much as I want him to retire a Ranger, I can accept that, for the benefit of the youngsters and franchise as a whole, it may be time to let him go.

  • Hopefully the next power forward that comes through has a much better d-zone play. Kreider isn’t that good around the boards in the DZ and NZ. He doesn’t have the awareness to become a valuable 180 ft 2-way winger in this league. He’s also pretty soft especially in the d-zone unlike most power forwards around the league. I think if he had Cally’ s heart and soul or Tom Wilson presence than JG would re-sign him. Unfortunately that’s not the case so he’s most likely traded and signs to a team like Arizona or CBJ. I think it will be easy to replace him 5v5.

  • It’s simple, if CK does not come off wanting a 7 year contract, then he will be traded.

    Panarin got 7 years, but he also came into the league a little later and he does not have the NHL miles that CK has, not to mention that Panarin’s game is more conducive for longevity.

    Panarin is a game changer and CK, sorry to say, is not.

  • I’m a Chris fan, love his speed, and frame, big strong guy. Now having said that he isn’t a sniper, or much of a play maker, but he’s a house that can’t be moved standing in front of the net driving defense men crazy.

    Is he worth $7 mil plus for over five years, sorry he isn’t. At his age I’d be worried to sing him for four years at best, especially with all the youth that need to be tended to. Will he slow down in the next few years, probably so, hence I’d go for four, or trade for picks………………………………………..Let’s see how Moe, Larry, and Curly respond to this post!!!!!!!!!!!

  • So we ride him until the trade deadline and hope the second line has vastly improved and his stock has risen so we can at least get a 1st rounder and a decent prospect. I think this year for a few guys is about showcasing them…Smith… Kreider.. Strome…

  • Very torn, clearly a slightly shorter term contract would be great — even if it costs an extra 500K …. but I always ask myself with regard to any player, how much does he want to be in NY? I mean will a year and 500K per less make so much of a difference to a player earning $30-40M+ over the course of 5-6 years? If you love NY the way I do, you don’t want to leave … and when you’re being paid a lot more than you can spend, well that sounds like a good deal to me.

    The other issue of course is, what am I offered for the player? If Gorton can find another “Zib” out there (C-LW) and a good draft pick, a circa 23 year old that they are convinced can blossom into a force then I say GRAB IT.

  • The problem with Kreider is that he just isn’t consistent enough. He had the potential to be a real difference maker with the speed strength and skill to take over a game but just has not been able to take that next step. Last season he scores..what? 24-25 goals in the first 50 games but still doesn’t make it to 30? How is that even possible? Where does the guy go some nights? It is like he disappears while being on the ice. I love the guy..always did..but his inconsistent results just do not make sense with that skill, size and speed.

    They should re-sign him..but it has to make sense and $7million for anything over say 4-5 years just does not

  • I ‘m a Kreider fan, but he is not a 7M guy, and no 7 years. C. McAvoy and change could work for the Rangers, depending on what the change adds up to.

  • McAvoy is a right shot and I totally doubt the Bruins would trade him anyway, especially for an almost 30 year old forward that they could try to nab as a UFA.

  • Resigning Kreider long term is a 50/50 crap-shot. He looks dominant at times, then disappears for long periods. He has for the most part, been inconsistent his whole career. Definitely not worth 7 million per year. At 29, the question is, is he going to get more consist and better, or is he going to have one or two good years more and then decline? His size and speed are his strong points, but he isn’t really that skillful a player. He basically has one move to the outside and cutting in toward the goal. When his speed declines as he ages, so will his style game. I’ve always liked him, but I say move him while we still can for a high draft choice, or a prospect if possible. Stick to the youth movement.

  • I like CK a lot, not only for his speed and size, but also for the other things he does as delineated in the article. He is also quite bright and fluent in Russian and has been in many ways the Ranger’s default captain on the ice since most of the veterans were sent packing. His work in front of the net is unmatched on the team.

    However, if he wants too much money (ie. more than $7 million and more than 4 or 5 years) or if the Rangers get offered that 22 or 23 year old center or LW with lots of skill or potential, I would understand why the Rangers would trade him. I’d like them to get real value for him and wonder if trading him at the deadline is the right strategy if that is what the team intends to do.

  • Kreider will be playing well after Panarin hangs them up. Elite skaters are the last to lose a step.

    If I’m Kreider, I’ll do 4 years if they max bonus year 1 for less AAV. $9.25mm bonus, $750k paragraph 1. $5mm year 4 with most of that as a bonus as well.

    Then I get a 3 year deal with more cap room, gets bought out year 3, hen keep that money and sign a series of 1 year bonus heavy deals until they take away my rocking chair.

  • No hedging here, trade him.
    He is far too inconsistent to pay him the amount of money and years he’ll get on the open market.

  • As a follow up, if CK is using the first 3 games to make his case for the contract that he wants, then he may want to rethink that strategy with his agent.

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