The trade deadline has come and gone. The Rangers only made two moves, but they were big moves. They signed Chris Kreider to a seven year contract extension at $6.5 million per season. The details of the contract aren’t known as of the writing of this post. The Rangers also traded Brady Skjei to the Carolina Hurricanes for a 2020 1st round pick. Carolina will pick between Toronto’s and their own.
The Kreider Extension
1. It was clear from the start that Kreider wanted to stay and the Rangers wanted him to stay. Kreider wanted term, as this was probably going to be his last big contract. The Rangers wanted to keep the cap hit under $7 million. Both got what they wanted. The deal might look ugly in years 6 and 7, but we say that about every long term contract. Every single contract comes with risk. The Rangers minimized that risk with the cap hit and the presumed structure of the deal.
2. This isn’t necessarily an overpay on contract dollars, but it’s a little longer than most are comfortable with. But the Kreider contract isn’t the contract that kills a cap situation. He’s a top-six player and you pay those players. The contracts that get you in trouble are the deals like this that get handed out to middle six/third line players. Pay for skill. Find bargains for the rest.
3. Kreider’s contract is front loaded, or so we’ve been told. That helps the Blueshirts out at the end of the deal, as it makes him more marketable to budget teams who don’t mind a cap hit, or teams like Ottawa who just want to pay as little as possible. This matters in those later years to help mitigate some risk.
4. This contract takes Kreider through his age-35 season, so how he ages will determine how this contract is viewed in the history books. Luckily for Kreider, he possesses two skills that generally age well – strength and net-front presence. He may lose a step or two as he gets older, but as long as he can jump out of pools and can get in front of goalies for screens and deflections, he will have a place on any NHL roster. Call me an optimist, but I get the impression those skills don’t age as quickly.
5. Wonder if he gets the ‘C’ over Mika Zibanejad?
The Skjei Trade
1. Even before Kreider inked his extension, we knew the Rangers were going to have to dump one or two contracts, especially if they planned on keeping all their RFAs through this season. Skjei was probably the player with the most trade value that could also free up enough cap space to address some of their offseason concerns.
2. The concern with trading Skjei is if he re-finds his game and becomes a bonafide 1-2 LD, then the return of only a first round pick will seem light. However if he doesn’t and he remains a middle pairing defenseman, then the Rangers may have found a good way out of a potentially bad contract. That Skjei deal was getting dangerously close to cap damaging (see above).
3. After the Skjei deal, the left side of the defense is…not ideal. It’s Ryan Lindgren, Marc Staal, and Brendan Smith. If there was any time to try Tony DeAngelo on the left side, now is that time. It can’t hurt. Just humor me, Quinn.
4. I do remember when Skjei was first called up, around Christmas time. I kept tweeting “It’s Lovely Weather for a Skjei Ride Together With You.” There weren’t many rookies that debuted between him and Pavel Buchnevich that we were really excited about. I hope he does well in Carolina.
The Lack of Other Moves
1. This was the most surprising aspect of the trade deadline. The Blueshirts did nothing else. Jesper Fast is still a Ranger. None of the RFAs were moved. The RFAs sticking doesn’t surprise me – they will have more value at the draft. Keeping Fast did surprise me, but logically it makes sense. He’s worth more to the team than he would fetch as a rental.
2. There were some other paper moves for Julien Gauthier and Brett Howden. They are eligible for the AHL playoffs after their 5 minute demotion yesterday. Just paper moves, they will be in the lineup tonight.