What role will Kreider play in likely his last season on Broadway
When Chris Kreider was selected by the New York Rangers with the 19th overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Rangers fans knew they had to wait for Kreider to develop and mature. He did so while playing hockey at Boston College before making the jump to professional hockey.
Ranger fans were content to wait on Kreider- a large power forward with terrific speed that many believed had the ability to become a game-breaking player for the Blueshirts going forward. However, it seems like waiting for Kreider has become a common trend amongst Rangers fans. Now we are once again, waiting upon management’s decision regarding the 28 year-old power forward and his future in New York.
Kreider’s NYR Career
The hulking 6’3, 220 pound left wing made his presence on Broadway known immediately after arriving in New York, signing an entry-level contract with the Rangers on April, 10, 2012. “Kreids” suited up for his first game as a Blueshirt at Scotiabank Place for Game 3 just six days after signing his ELC with the organization. Seven days later, Kreider scored his first career NHL goal which proved to be the game-winner in a pivotal Game 6 for the Rangers in which they were facing elimination on the road.
Kreider’s second career NHL goal was scored against the Capitals in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, making “Kreids” the first player in NHL history whose first two goals were playoff game-winners. Kreider finished the 2012 postseason with 5 goals and 7 points in 18 playoff games, breaking a record previously held by Eddie Mazur for the most playoff goals before playing in a regular-season contest.
Kreider’s first full season on Broadway was in 2013-2014 when the American-born winger started to establish himself as a true power forward in the NHL. At this point, Kreider can be depended on to score at least 25 goals and around 50-55 points per season. His style of play is a straight-line, north-south game that allows CK20 to use his game-breaking speed to generate offense off the rush as well as outmuscle defenders in the offensive zone.
In 2018-2019, Chris Kreider recorded 28 goals to tie his career high (2016-2017) and 24 assists for a total of 52 points in 79 games. From opening night at MSG until the end of 2018, Kreider was a force to be reckoned with. He scored 20 goals in his first 37 games and was on pace to shatter his career highs in both goals and points. However, following the departures of Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello, Kreider simply stopped producing. He scored 5 goals in his final 25 games, including just two goals in the final 16 games of the year as the Rangers struggled down the stretch. This is the type of inconsistency that has characterized his career thus far.
On July 22, 2016, Kreider signed a 4 year, $18.5 million contract with a cap hit of $4.625 million per season. And while Kreider has reached the expectations of his most recent contract, there is a significant amount of chatter about his future in the Big Apple, specifically if he will remain a Ranger following the expiration of his contract after the 2019-2020 NHL season.
What is Kreider’s role on the Rangers in 2019-2020?
With the addition of Artemi Panarin as the Rangers new #1 left wing, Kreider will still see top 6 minutes, most likely in a second line role. Playing on the 2nd line may afford Kreider the opportunity to face easier defensive matchups while helping to ease the pressure off of the Rangers young players who will most likely be his linemates when the puck drops on the 2019-2020 NHL Regular Season. In particular, Kreider could help a player like Filip Chytil attempting to make the next step in his development or even to help shoulder the pressure that will undoubtedly be placed on Vitali Kravtsov and Kaapo Kakko this coming season by Rangers management and the fanbase. Kreider staying in New York to start the 2019-2020 NHL season will help ease the pressure off Panarin as well, since he can provide secondary scoring.
Kreider will help the Rangers talented group of young forwards acclimate to playing hockey at the professional level in New York City, an intangible that is often times forgotten even though it is integral to the development and maturation of an NHL prospect. Playing on a contract year always seems to motivate players to play their best hockey and it will be intriguing to see how CK20 plays for the Rangers in a pivotal season for both the organization and Kreider individually.
What does Kreider’s future look like in the Big Apple?
After John Davidson and Jeff Gorton spoke publicly about expecting Kreider at training camp this September and on the roster to start 2019-2020, there are really only three conceivable options surrounding Kreider’s future with the Rangers.
- Trade Kreider for a 1st round pick + prospect at the deadline
- Extend Kreider mid-season
- If the Rangers are in playoff contention, keep Kreider through the duration of the season in hopes of a playoff run.
Although reports surfaced that the Rangers attempted to trade Kreider to Colorado for the 16th overall pick at the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver, it’s unlikely the Blueshirts move Kreider at this point with training camp looming in a few weeks. That being said, I still believe that the Rangers should trade Kreider this season at the deadline, regardless of where the Blueshirts are in the standings.
All in all, Chris Kreider has been a great Ranger, recording 133 goals and 271 points in 460 career games, all with the Blueshirts. He’s certainly been impactful in the playoffs as well, albeit earlier in his career. However, the abundance of talent the Rangers possess on the wing may make Kreider an expendable trade asset as the organization attempts to build and identify their core players during phase II of the “rebuild.”