I’m sure almost every fan hates having this discussion but sometimes even unpleasant circumstances must be addressed when necessary. It’s unfortunate, but I fear now’s the time to discuss how the New York Rangers organization might want to seriously consider moving on from Chris Kreider (from ‘Chris Kreider’s Rangers future could come down to hope factor,’ New York Post, 11/26/2019).
This is never easy to talk about, but in order for the Rangers to have a successful rebuild for their long-term future, it may be a plausible solution for them to cut ties.
Kreider Emerges on the Scene
Kreider was a top prospect in the Rangers’ farm system. They had the hopes he would become the next great power forward in the league with his size and speed. Checking in at 6-feet 3 and 226 pounds, New York and its fans had every reason to be excited about what this young man could bring to the table. On April 10, 2012, he signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Blueshirts.
Less than a week later, he made his NHL debut on April 16, 2012, against the Washington Capitals. In fact, his debut was during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals when the Rangers were in the midst of making one of their deep playoff runs. He showed a lot of promise when he entered the league and scored his first career goal just three games later in Game 6 against Washington. The sky seemed to be the limit for the youngster out of Boston College.
The following season was shortened due to a lockout that lasted until Jan. 2013. During the 23 games he played in, he only produced a pair of goals and an assist. Furthermore, he played an additional eight contests in the 2013 postseason where he scored a goal and an assist during the Rangers’ playoff run. Questions began to be raised, but nothing too serious just yet. Sports critics alike gave Kreider a pass because he had yet to play a full regular season in his career. The following campaign would be the real test.
The 2013-14 season saw some improvements for Kreider but not enough to keep the critics at bay. In 66 games played during the 2013-14 regular season, he was only able to muster just 17 goals and 37 points. The only silver-lining was in the playoffs when he racked up five goals and eight assists in 15 contests. That was nearly a point per game in that stretch. Maybe this was finally the break Kreider and Rangers fans were looking for.
Sadly, 2014-15 wasn’t much better as he nearly cracked over 20 goals for the first time in his career during 80 games. He did manage to score one of the biggest goals in recent playoff history as he saved New York’s season in Game 5 against the Washington Capitals. Most fans remember him for his heroics in that game where he buried a goal with about a minute and a half remaining in regulation to force overtime. That goal sparked a comeback during the series as the Rangers would go on to win three straight games and move on to the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Unfortunately, there haven’t been enough of those moments for the Blueshirts to feel convinced about keeping him around for much longer. He has now been in the league going on nine years and he has yet to score over 30 goals in a single season. New York is entering the fourth and final year of his four-year, $18.5 million contract in 2019-20. They owe him $4 million this season and he becomes an unrestricted free agent in the approaching summer. If the Rangers are thinking what a lot of other fans have been pondering, then it is a strong possibility that his days in Broadway might be numbered.
Time for Rangers to Move On
It’s always sad to say goodbye to a familiar face, but if they are not part of the picture for long-term future success, then it’s most likely best to sever ties. Kreider has been a fan-favorite since coming to New York in 2012, but he just hasn’t lived up to the potential. For what the Rangers have invested in him, they certainly did not get the return they were hoping to receive.
Kreider will be turning 29 this April and isn’t part of the youth movement like he may have been several years ago. He is a seasoned veteran player who could be more useful for a team looking to make a deep playoff push. His experience in big-time playoff moments could be greatly appreciated with a team that is ready to make a serious run at a championship now.
The Rangers are still trying to find their identity and Kreider is part of the old-blood from those Cup-contending teams in the recent past. Sure it is always helpful to have a veteran presence in a young, inexperienced locker room, but Kreider isn’t the answer in my humble opinion. I believe guys like Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin, and Ryan Strome are better fits to lead the young corps than Kreider who has primarily underachieved since coming to the Big Apple.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Kreider and everything he has been able to do. But at the end of the day, he just fell short of expectations time and time again. It’s not worth having a player around who isn’t going to really progress anymore.
It seems like the best solution is for both sides to head in different directions for their futures. It’s possible the Rangers may trade Kreider as we approach the deadline at the end of February or maybe they just decide to hang on to him until the season comes to a conclusion in April. Depending on how the Rangers perform between now and the deadline could determine Kreider’s fate with the Rangers. If the team is performing well and exceeding expectations, then maybe he can survive until the spring.
On the other hand, if the Rangers begin to flounder or just play too inconsistently – as they have up to this point – then trading Kreider might be more likely. I’m no expert in the workings of his contract and what is allowed and what’s not, but if a trade is a possibility, then it would not come as a shock if the Rangers make that move going forward.
Either way, I feel the Rangers’ best course of action is for them to part ways with him. Maybe they could get some helpful draft picks as part of the continued rebuild process, or a more proven talented player from another team to help develop the youngsters on the current roster. Both options are good and can greatly benefit the Rangers and their long-term future.
It’s been nice having Kreider around for these nine seasons, but I feel as though his time has run out while wearing the red, white, and blue sweater. We will just have to wait and see what the Rangers choose to do and if they are truly ready to move on from someone who was once the bright, shining future of the organization.