If the Edmonton Oilers wanted to improve their top-six and grab a productive left-winger, one target might be Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers. While the Oilers aren’t exactly swimming in cap space, the Rangers are in a real cap crunch and Kreider might be someone new Oilers GM Ken Holland should kick tires on.
Why Kreider Might Leave the Rangers
I wrote in the NHL Rumor Rundown report today that there are mixed thoughts when it comes to Kreider and his future with the Rangers. Some scribes believe he’ll be on the trade block as the Rangers try to get back under the salary cap and others think New York will buy out a player like Kevin Shattenkirk before they ever think of trading Kreider.
Either way, the consensus speculation out of the Rangers side of the world is that Kreider could be moved. Even if it isn’t related to the Rangers’ salary cap issues today, it could be future cap concerns as the expectation is Kreider will expect Kevin Hayes-type money on his next contract. The Rangers aren’t looking to spend $7 million for seven seasons on Kreider extension.
Does this open the door for the Oilers to put something together?
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The Oilers Could Use Someone Like Kreider
Edmonton picked up James Neal in a deal for Milan Lucic but there’s no guarantee Neal will bounce back and become a 20 or 30-goal scorer beside Connor McDavid. Should he, this would be a massive win for the Oilers. Should he not, Edmonton is still pretty light for top-six wingers.
Kreider represents a massive upgrade over players like Markus Granlund, Jujhar Khaira or Joakim Nygard. Adding Kreider also means the Oilers can run McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins down the middle, should they choose. A consistent 37-53 points per season over the last six seasons makes Kreider a win. At $4.625 million for one more season, he’s also a fair value. Unlike Neal, the Oilers can, and probably should expect big things from Kreider for the money if paired with one of their top-two centers.
Edmonton doesn’t have the kind of cap room right now to make this trade, but it wouldn’t take a lot of free up the $2 million needed to fit his contract in. So too, the team can jump over the cap by 10% as long as they get back under before the start of the season.
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What Would It Take to Land Kreider?
The Rangers wouldn’t likely trade Kreider for anything that had a significant cap hit coming back. A Lucic-for-Neal-type deal is out. The Oilers also wouldn’t be willing to move someone like Jesse Puljujarvi for one year of Kreider’s contract. Holland has said he wants either a young prospect or veteran who is signed for more than one season if he’s moving the former fourth-overall draft pick.
With those things in mind, any trade would have to be something that allows the Rangers to get back under the cap ceiling while Edmonton can obtain a year-long rental and at a price that isn’t sacrificing a top-end prospect or high-valued draft pick. Maybe the Oilers can spare a little depth in the form of a Tyler Benson or Ethan Bear, mixed with a later-round draft pick. Would that be enough for the Rangers to give it some thought? The NHL has already seen a few big-name players move for far less.
The question about Kreider becomes what frame of mind the Rangers are currently in? Could the Oilers appeal the Rangers sense of urgency? Are the Rangers actually that urgent? It’s an interesting question and probably one that Holland should be asking as he tries to add before the season kicks off in October.
If the Rangers want real value back, there probably isn’t anything there for the Oilers. If New York is in a hurry to move salary, who knows.