Chris Kreider
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

With the trade deadline Monday, the New York Rangers shouldn’t be afraid to keep Chris Kreider in the lineup.

Dom Renna

For the last two seasons, the New York Rangers have been sellers.

They’ve taken part in keeping key players out of games with potential trades hinging on health and they find themselves in that situation once again… with one caveat.

We all know that Chris Kreider is the No. 1 player on the market and if it was 2018 or 2019, there is no way he would lace up for the Rangers against Carolina or San Jose this weekend. The difference this year, however, is how New York has now become a fringe playoff team with a chance to gain some traction in the standings this upcoming weekend. New York’s recent surge is complicating things.

This year, the decision of “bubble wrapping” key players like Kreider or Jesper Fast for the sake of keeping them healthy might just not be the answer. Instead, keeping them in the lineup might be the best course of action. After all, this young team is looking to make its first real run at a playoff berth since this rebuilding process began.

It’s not the norm around this time of year. The Rangers played it safe with Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes a year ago.

From what it sounds like, Kreider is looking forward to playing in what will go down as the biggest game of the Rangers season—a chance to come within four points of the final playoff spot in the East. New York’s best chance at doing that is with the likes of Kreider and Fast in the lineup, not in the press box. It’ll be Kreider’s biggest game as a Ranger since New York’s second-round playoff exit in 2017.

Both Kreider and Fast have played major roles this season and the Rangers should utilize their talent while they’re still employed by the team.

Head coach David Quinn stressed the importance of keeping lines together at the start of the year. He went from juggling lines to finally finding a steady group of combinations to help New York stay in the race. Removing both players and inserting Greg McKegg and Brendan Smith upfront just sends a bad message to a young team right before a game with playoff implications.

The proof is out there. After New York made their trade deadline deals the last two seasons, there was a significant dip in their game. Of course, that is most likely to happen when talented players are removed, but this year is just so much different.

Now it would be foolish to keep going on about the importance of keeping the status quo without mentioning the possibility of a player suffering an injury and ruining a potential trade. It’s the main reason teams go about this “bubble wrapping” policy around this time of year.

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Teams don’t usually use this route unless they know a deal is imminent and it is a smart business move. If they were to keep both guys in the lineup and the unthinkable happens, the Rangers’ trade deadline plans will change drastically.

But this year is so different compared to the last couple of ones. If they end up deciding to sell, we’ll have to accept it, but they should at least give this group the chance to go out together on a good note.

There’s no denying it. New York finds itself with a double-edged sword. But what it should come down to is if they intend on trading Kreider, Fast, or any other player who might be on the block, they should still try and put their best lines on the ice while they can.

Dominick is a graduate of Canisius College. He has covered the Rangers for the last seven seasons and the Yankees for the last four.