Chris Kreider
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

The New York Rangers’ future, as tough as it may be to admit, shines brighter with Chris Kreider on a different NHL team.

Frank Curto

The future is young and bright for the New York Rangers, yet there remains an unanswered question regarding a veteran player on the team.

Does Chris Kreider have a place on the roster at the end of this season?

The 28-year-old will be an unrestricted free agent after this season. The team and player both have been very quiet regarding a possible re-signing. This might sound familiar to Rangers fans.

The club was in the same position a year ago with both Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello. Both were traded at the deadline last February. It was a season-long distraction that the team has to avoid this year.

Kreider had a career year last season in goals scored with 28. He finished the season with 52 points. That was his second-best season with the Rangers ( he had 53 points in 2016-2017).

This season has not been so kind. In 26 games this year, he has only six goals and 13 points. In comparison with last season at the same 26 game mark, CK scored 13 goals with eight helpers.

Kreider has only managed to score two goals with four points in the last 10 games. His lack of production in a contract year is another possible reason neither side has been able to decide what the next step to take is.

Trade while the value is high

The value the team can get in return would be higher now than when the club is desperate to move him in February. Last year’s trade deadline only saw two first-round picks traded (Hayes to Winnipeg was one of them). Hoping to get better prospects closer to the deadline is a big gamble for Jeff Gorton and John Davidson to bank on.

This all doesn’t fall on the organization. Kreider and his team have to be willing to sign for a reasonable deal.

Kreider is a homegrown Ranger. Drafted in the first round, 19th overall, in the 2009 NHL entry draft he has only played for the Blueshirts.

Last season, there was a thought he would sign a hometown discount. Then Hayes signed a 7-year, $50 million deal with the Philadelphia Flyers over the summer. That was followed by another former Ranger, Zuccarello, signing a 5-year, $30-million contract with the Minnesota Wild. Zucc is four years older than Kreider.

So much for a discount.

The Negatives Outweigh The Positives

The youth movement is alive on Broadway and Kreider could be a positive the team in future years. The downside to re-signing him is the same issues that have always surrounded the left-winger.

His inconsistent play for long stretches has become noticeable. He will go multiple games where he is missing from the play, his name never been mentioned throughout a televised broadcast.

It is hard to understand a player with great size, skating skill and hockey smart can seem invisible on the ice. He has too much talent in his arsenal to be an afterthought in so many games.

Perhaps a change of scenery will bring out the best in Kreider. As hard it would be to see him in a different sweater, this is a business first and foremost.

The decision whether to keep him in a Blueshirt sweater or move him and continue to improve the team with a ready now NHL player or a prospect needs to be made shortly.

This team is about to make major strides in their development. A possible playoff run in February and March instead of being sellers for a third straight season.

Trading CK is the Best Option

The Rangers should move Kreider before the trade deadline frenzy begins.

His time has come and gone in New York. He could have been named captain if his consistency was there every game. His play so far this year has been disappointing on the scoresheet.

No one can question his leadership with the younger players in the club. Kreider’s knowledge and experience are of great value with the Rangers and is a definite selling point when the team looks to trade him.

He would be a great fit in St. Louis, Colorado or back with John Tortorella in Columbus.

As was the case with Hayes and Zuccarello last season, Kreider’s asking price along with the term of a new deal will be too much for the Rangers.

The team is moving in a new direction which is good news for Kreider as he is sure to land with a team that is playoff bound this year.

A veteran player being moved is always an unhappy situation. It will benefit both sides which are all that can be hoped for when a trade like this occurs.

When dealing with the emotions of seeing a fan favorite move on, a quote from the famous Herb Brooks always comes to mind,

“When you pull on that jersey, the name on the front is a hell of a lot more important than the one on the back.”

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