What Comes Next for the Rangers and Kreider
The deadline is finally behind us. We said goodbye to some lifetime Rangers, including fan favorite Mats Zuccarello (aka ZUCCCCCCCC!), and Kevin Hayes. They and the others (Adam McQuaid) will be missed, but it is now time to move on.
Before I talk about what’s next for the Rangers, I will give my quick two cents on the Zuccarello return because many people are complaining about it. Most people expected a 2nd round pick and a prospect, including the great Bob McKenzie. They got a guaranteed 2nd round pick and guaranteed 3rd round pick. The prospect would’ve been a mid-level at best and likely someone who doesn’t make it to the NHL. The conditions make it possible for 2 first round picks which makes this a good move by Gorton in my opinion.
Rangers past the deadline
Now let’s get back to what needs to be done moving forward. With the plethora of picks in the first three rounds again (6 total), and (what will be after the increase) nearly 25 million in cap this summer, the Rangers need to move in the direction of winning again, and here is how.
We expect the three Russian prospects to hop the pond this summer in the forms of Yegor Rykov, the heir apparent Igor Shestyorkin, and highly touted prospect Vitali Kravtsov. With the Rangers likely picking in the top-10 (hopefully 1), they will add another top-notch prospect to the pool, along with the multitude of picks they have accumulated….but the Rangers need to start prepping for the now(ish) time.
The big day I spoke about in a recent post was July 1. Jeff Gorton and company are expected to be active in the market, unlike last summer when they sat back (the right move). In a previous post I discussed how I prefer Erik Karlsson to Artemi Panarin on July 1 (if both presented themselves as wanting to play on Broadway), but for this post I am going to go with the more realistic signing in Panarin.
So, on July 1 Gorton needs to give Panarin a blank check. That blank check will likely look something like the max of 7-years at an AAV of around $10.5 – 12 million. Panarin is a career point per game player and a bonafide superstar in this league. Him running the top line with Zibanejab will be a ton of fun to watch. But what about the guy on number 93’s other wing, Chris Kreider?
Kreider survived the deadline as we all expected. There were teams kicking tires on him hard, but it was mentioned that Gorton was only letting him go for a king’s ransom, as he should have. Kreider is going to pot 30 goals this year, and has another year left on his deal at a VERY FRIENDLY $4.625 million.
Kreider will be a UFA on July 1 of 2020, but can sign an extension with the Rangers on July 1 of this year (2019)….and that is exactly what needs to be done. As mentioned in a post by the great Larry Brooks last week, the Rangers cannot do to Kreider what they did to Nash, Holden, Zuccarello, and Hayes.
It is not good for the player, and it is even worse for the team when possible and/or inevitable trades hang over a locker room. Kreider is like Zuccarello and Hayes in that they are lifetime Rangers and it makes the impact that much worse, so Gorton needs to avoid that at all costs by extending him this summer.
If the Rangers bring in Panarin, that will accelerate the rebuild significantly and keeping Kreider on a top line with him and Zibanejad is something every Rangers fan can get on board with for the next handful plus of years. Kreider will likely fetch a 6-7 year deal in the AAV range of $7-8 million, and I am all for it. The Rangers need to get Kreider’s contract done this summer so it is not hanging over everyone’s head like these past two years spoiling the locker room, and like we saw earlier in the year with Zuccarello, the player and the person.
I will also add this part about Kreider. Teams wanted him so bad because he is a player that is a 30 goal scorer, and has term. Contending teams would much rather get a guy like Kreider or McDonagh last year, that can give them two playoff runs at a cheap cap hit. The time to cash in on Kreider was this deadline. If the Rangers were to move Kreider at the 2020 deadline, the price would be half of what it would have been now because he would be just a rental. This is also why the Rangers need to keep number 20 in the building.
The Rangers need to start moving forward now. They have accumulated a ton of picks, high-end prospects, and have potential to have a top line of Zibanejad, Kreider, and Panarin for the next number of years. I am not saying they are going to be a cup contender next year, but it is time to start moving forward.