Chris Kreider still top target even as doubt grows he will be traded

We are less than two weeks away from the NHL Trade Deadline and Chris Kreider still tops the list of all available players that might be moved. Of course we can see that this could be a seller’s market, and reports have surfaced that at least 8 teams are interested in the power forward, yet stories are emerging that Kreider may not be moved.

Rebuild Crossroads

The New York Rangers have reached a point in their rebuild where they’ve already overturned a huge amount of their lineup in the last few years. They are also not at the point where they feel they are ready to contend. This is your metaphorical crossroads that the Rangers will have to decide which path they take at the deadline, and I’m hearing being in or out of the playoffs may not matter for some decisions.

Kreider (Getty Images)

When it comes to this deadline, a team source told me that “at some point, you need to start keeping some guys to get better.” One of those players could very well be Chris Kreider. Anyone who watches the Rangers game in and out can clearly see what he means to the team on the ice and in the locker room. He has elevated his game and both Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich are reaping the benefits. The big bodied power forward also has no problem getting in the grill of goalies and not a single Ranger comes close to his tip in and screening expertise. Unlike Rick Nash, Mats Zuccarello, and Kevin Hayes this is a harder decision to make.

Contract Talks

The Rangers and Kreider’s representation are scheduled to talk this week, if they haven’t already. It’s the first step in the process of making that decision. A decision that becomes easier if Kreider will take less money and term to stay with the club. And that’s the rub here because it’s a limited time to make those big decisions.

Even if the Rangers believe a deal that works for both sides can be made, they still have to listen to offers. For example, yesterday I wrote how the Bruins may come hard for Kreider. Could the Rangers really turn down Jake DeBrusk and a conditional first round pick for CK20? I find that impossible to believe. Plus what are the other teams going to come at the team with? That’s why a trade still seems the most likely outcome.

Just know this, the absolute certainty I had coming into this month is no longer the case. That brief exchange was enough to put reasonable doubt in my mind. Watching Chris Kreider thrive in these last few months has only added to it as well. Of all the Rangers that could be moved, Kreider now has become the most mysterious. Ultimately, I think fans will love him to remain, but many are educated on the cap and what they settle on contract wise will determine what the court of public opinions decides.

Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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