Rangers hoping to keep Kreider
The New York Rangers are looking at their lineup and realize the best chance for success next season includes Chris Kreider. Of course it will take some cap navigation as they have around 9M to play with and 4 key RFA’s to sign.
The situation is going to be tough for the Blueshirts to work through. Currently, the Rangers have about a little over 8M in cap space, and need to sign RFA’s Trouba, Buchnevich, DeAngelo, Lemieux and Kakko (ELC). They must find another 7 to 8M to get this all done. That means a trade of Vlad Namestnikov (4M) and also a buyout of Brendan Smith (~3M+) which can get you close to keeping Kreider. That’s the preferred option.
John Davidson and Jeff Gorton know just how valuable Kreider can be on the 2nd line. Especially, if they are going to give Vitali Kravtsov a chance to center it. Even if they roll with Filip Chytil there, a veteran presence would be beneficial.
Should the Rangers and their rookies gel and catch fire, they could opt to hold onto Kreider at the deadline and hope to extend him next summer. If not, and the playoffs are in doubt, they can be a seller and move Kreider for a coveted 1st round pick as a rental. It’s just good asset management all around.
Unfortunately, the demand for Namestnikov is not very high right now. The 26 year old center has one year left on his deal and will become an unrestricted free agent next summer. Although he has struggled to find his game with the Rangers, he is a big player who put up 48 points just 2 seasons ago. But promise alone isn’t going to get Jeff Gorton a big return, and every GM knows he needs to cut salary now. He’s dealing from weakness at the moment.
Moving Namestnikov is going to be tough, and he needs to do it without retaining any cap hit and not taking a salary over $1M back. For those not aware, you can bury up to that amount in Hartford on any player’s contract.
A final note on the topic, Kreider makes almost 5M and will be a UFA next summer as well. He is also the most asked about player in terms of trade on the team. While the Rangers may want to keep him, Boston, Colorado or Detroit may make an offer Gorton can’t refuse.
If push comes to shove and the Rangers must get under the cap after signing all their RFA’s, Kreider may have to be sacrificed. It’s a move the Rangers really want to avoid.