Inside Talk: Rangers have huge decisions to make on Chris Kreider, Alexandar Georgiev, as NHL Trade Deadline nears

The Rangers have a lot of decisions to make, and plenty of players and options to make this one of the most pivotal times for the franchise. To help me break it all down for you, I reached out to Dennis Bernstein of The Fourth Period, NHL Network, and SiriusXMNHL. He’s a hockey insider with ties on both the East and West coast. So without further ado let’s dive in to the hottest topic in Rangerstown.

Chris Kreider

The Rangers top UFA veteran is on top of every major contender’s wish list. We are aware that talks have not progressed leading many to speculate Kreider should be on the move.

Given the returns NJD and LAK got for Andy Greene, Blake Coleman and Tyler Toffoli, at the moment it’s clearly a seller’s market. Specifically on Toffoli’s return, if I’m a NYR fan I would be disappointed if Kreider landed less than a 1st round pick, a legitimate prospect and a 3rd asset (maybe a conditional pick on a Kreider re-sign with acquiring team.) That said, I think Kreider is part of the solution in NYR and would want him to stay but it’s a question of how much AAV and term it would take.

Dennis Bernstein

Dennis feels the likelihood of him being traded has increased because the team has a difficult path to make the playoffs. Today’s trade bringing in 22 year old hulking winger Julien Gauthier also raises more eyebrows that another deal is looming. Could it be Kreider or Jesper Fast? At this time, Gauthier has been given jersey #12 and not been assigned to Hartford.

Jesper Fast

Jesper Fast (Bruce Bennett-Getty Images)

The other UFA that is almost certain to be moved is Jesper Fast. He has become expendable now with the amount of players and prospects that play RW. Couple that with not a word on the two sides discussing a new deal and you can see a trade coming soon.

Not heard much on Fast, he would be a good fit with another Metro team, Philly as they are looking for bottom six depth. He is also the type of player that Washington pursues at the deadline and since they have looked closely at LA’s Trevor Lewis, Fast is younger and provides a little more offensive punch.

Dennis Bernstein

The Futures of Lundqvist and Georgiev

Igor Shesterkin is the Rangers future now. But what does that mean for Henrik Lundqvist? According to Dennis, Hank controls his future and if he stays with the Rangers it won’t include a Cup.

Hank controls where he lands. He is so ingrained in NYC, it’s hard to imagine him agreeing to go to a small market team, probably needs to be a big city/major market. Last season, TFP reported interest by Columbus around the deadline but he wasn’t interested in moving.

Dennis Bernstein

As for Georgiev, there is a strong possibility he gets dealt just as it is possible he doesn’t.

The one big advantage Gorton has – all three are on term or controlled after this season (Georgiev arbitration eligible RFA, he is not under pressure to move Hank or Georgiev by February 24 if he doesn’t get his asking price. 

Dennis Bernstein

The Avalanche

Lundqvist and Georgiev (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

Colorado is one team that just got hammered by the injury bug. They could change the whole entire dynamic of the deadline for the Blueshirts.

Grubauer’s injury in Colorado could open the door for Gorton – I’ve suggested on our Sirius XM NHL Network Hot Stove show that it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Joe Sakic goes VERY large and looks at a Kreider-Lundqvist deal. Two missing pieces – Kreider with MacKinnon and Raatanen (although he suffered an upper body injury Monday v Tampa)  is downright scary and even if Grubauer returns to the net before the playoffs start, is the pairing of him and Francouz enough to get them over a weaker Western Conference? Georgiev is also a solution for Colorado and a much less expensive one and I would think that Winnipeg is logical because they can’t run Connor Hellebuyck into the ground if they want push for a wild card spot.

Dennis Bernstein

A Blockbuster?

I’ve talked about that possibility if the Rangers are willing to move a player like Brady Skjei or possibly Tony DeAngelo. There are so many teams out there looking for defenseman that it’s possible. However, Dennis isn’t confident any team makes a blockbuster deal.

Sadly, the lack of imagination by NHL GMs with a hard cap normally prevents blockbuster deadline deals but Gorton has made trades of consequence both at the deadline (Zuccarello, Hayes. McDonagh/Miller, Nash, Staal) as well as the off-season (DeAngelo, Trouba, Fox). Strome and DeAngelo made their bones in NY, and while Strome will get paid off his solid season (and yes, deals off career years are costly and have a higher percentage of failure), I keep them. Skeji and Buchnevich, due to their age and comfortable cap hits should be part of the future but not untouchable. Any sort of deal with the players you name probably comes at the draft table in Montreal in June, if at all. 

Dennis Bernstein

So there you have it. Now you are primed and ready for what’s to come this week.

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