Is today Chris Kreider’s last with the Rangers?

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The Rangers biggest decision to date is what to do with the team’s long-time forward, Chris Kreider. By now, it’s no secret what the game plan is on Broadway; sell until you can’t sell anymore. That “selling” mindset may have been hinted at coming to a close when Jeff Gorton and company acquired their number one offseason focus on Monday – defenseman Jacob Trouba.

But that doesn’t mean that they are set in stone with what they have for next season, of course, as arguably the biggest draft day in organization history today, which they will welcome either Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko. One of those two players will make an immediate impact with the Rangers next season, as will the multitude of players the Rangers have acquired. So how should they handle the situation surrounding Chris Kreider?

There’s no need to go over what a player like Kreider does to a lineup, because well, it’s quite clear. He’s fast, he’s big (6’3″ 220lb), and he drives hard to the net, and on good days, he can score. Tying his career-high in goals last season with 28, Kreider’s value is at its peak right at this very moment. But the Rangers’ smartest move would be to wait. Delay the situation further with Kreider, as he’s due a next contract that will come in north of $6.5 million once July 1st, 2020 roles around.

The options in front of the Rangers as far as Chris Kreider go are simple. Does the team believe he is worth the hefty, long-term contract he can find outside of New York? Kreider, now 28 years old, has pretty much shown his entire worth to the Rangers and what he will give the team each year. All it comes down too is if the higher-ups think he’s worthy of a contract that he will most definitely ask for. And even though trading Kreider at the draft to acquire a higher draft pick seems like the play, waiting as they did with other former Rangers will give the Rangers their best return.

The Rangers should handle this situation the same as they did with Kevin Hayes. The team could’ve easily traded him at this time last year, but waited and got a package which now they are more than pleased with. The reasoning behind waiting comes down to a few different things. If Kreider is moved at this Friday’s draft, it’ll be for the team to move up in the draft. Although moving up for a second first-round pick will obviously help the organization in the long run, the package they would get at the trade deadline next season would likely surpass that. The 2020 draft is known to be absolutely loaded. And as far as this draft goes, Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko are far superior than the rest of the soon-to-be draftees, and the Rangers can check one of those guys off of their list as a definite.

Since the Rangers hit a home run with one of those guys, consider this draft a success, and move forward. Let Kreider stick with the team, play with the youngsters throughout the first half of next season, then ship him off for a package that includes draft picks in the loaded 2020 draft, and then some. Although a player like Kreider doesn’t come around very often, it seems like the Rangers would rather spend their cap money elsewhere. Like I stated before, Kreider is aging and has shown this organization what he brings to the table.

The Rangers best bet moving forward is to follow the same path as they did with former Ranger, and now Flyer, Kevin Hayes. The Rangers let him play through the first half of the 2018-19 season, and he did very successfully I might add, then get rid of him for what now the organization can say was a great return. Then, Kevin Hayes signed a massive seven-year/$7.14 AAV contract with Philadelphia after Winnipeg traded his negotiating rights.

Hayes’ contract is a perfect example of a contract the Rangers likely wanted to avoid. So they played their cards correctly and dealt Hayes at the deadline. This is the path in which the team might take with Kreider, and even though it will hurt getting rid of one of the last remaining veterans in New York from that great 2014 run, this is a move that will not be a surprise if it goes down.

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