Kreider is leading the Rangers — and we need to talk about him more.
The New York Rangers’ offense is doing enough that they’re among the NHL’s best teams right now. Justifiably, most of the attention goes to Artemi Panarin; he’s one of the elite offensive players in the game. But we need to talk more about the season Chris Kreider is having.
He was the 19th overall selection in the 2009 NHL Draft, which took place a couple months before Kreider’s current teammate, Alexis Lafrenière, celebrated his eighth birthday. Kreider is now 30 years old and is on pace to have the best season of his NHL career.
Looking back at the past eight-plus seasons, Kreider has consistently been a player the Rangers could count on for roughly 20 goals. He’s reached 20 goals in all but two of the past eight completed seasons with career-highs in 2016-17 and 2018-19 when he scored 28.
He was on pace for at least 20 in the other two seasons; he scored 17 in 66 games in his first full NHL season in 2013-14 and scored 16 times in 58 games in 2017-18.
Last year, Kreider scored 20 goals and had 30 points in 50 games. He’s already matched that goal total and has 31 points in just 34 games this year.
And while Panarin is the player who receives the most attention and Mika Zibanejad got a big new contract earlier this year, it’s Kreider who leads the team in scoring. His 20 goals are twice as many as Panarin has produced this year and nine more than Zibanejad.
Of the three players who have scored more goals than Kreider in the entire NHL, two make more money than Kreider’s $6.5 million AAV. Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl, who’s 26, has a cap hit of $8.5 million and leads the league with 25 goals. And the ageless Alex Ovechkin, who is 36 but playing like someone ten years his junior, has a $9.5 million AAV on his contract.
The Rangers are winning games because of terrific goaltending and exceptional defensive play, led by reigning Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox. But the offense has been good enough, and Kreider has been the biggest reason for it being sufficient for the Blueshirts to be where they are in the standings.