The New York Rangers made a big commitment to both Jacob Trouba and Chris Kreider, signing them to long-term contracts, as the Blueshirts attempted to transition from rebuilding to contending. Both players failed to play to their full potential last season, but this year both are in the midst of career seasons and are proving that the Rangers can rely on them. They are both alternate captains and are leading by example on this young team that does not have a captain.
The Blueshirts acquired Trouba from the Winnipeg Jets during the 2019 offseason and signed him to a seven-year, $56 million contract. During his first season with the Rangers, he didn’t play poorly, but he had a lot of different defensive partners and got caught pinching in the offensive zone too many times. Last season, he played in just 38 games, missing time due to a broken thumb and a concussion, and finished with two goals and 10 assists.
This season, Trouba has formed chemistry with his defense partner K’Andre Miller, and has looked comfortable and confident at both ends of the ice. He never passes up an opportunity to throw hits to separate opponents from the puck and he has been strong on the penalty kill.
Trouba has also broken out offensively this season and after struggling to get shots on goal in his first two seasons, he has repeatedly gotten his heavy slap shot on goal this season. He is making smart pinches in the offensive zone to keep plays alive and is also making clean passes out of the defensive zone to start the rush.
Through 42 games, Trouba already has eight goals and 13 assists. During Saturday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes, he scored two goals and set up Chris Kreider for a shorthanded goal, as the Rangers came back from a 3-1 deficit to win 7-3. When the Blueshirts have struggled, he has made big plays to give them energy and helped lead comebacks. He has become an irreplaceable force for them on defense.
After trade rumors swirled around Kreider during the 2019-20 season, the Rangers signed the talented forward to a seven-year, $45.5 million contract extension. Though he finished with 20 goals and 10 assists in 50 games last season, he went through a few scoring droughts and stretches of games when he wasn’t noticeable for the Blueshirts.
This season, Kreider has been one of the Rangers’ most consistent players and he has been noticeable in every game. He has been relentless on the forecheck, driven to the net, and excelled defensively. For the first time in his career, he has become a key member of New York’s penalty kill unit. In addition to blocking shots and using his long reach to deflect passes, he has used his speed and strength to create scoring opportunities shorthanded. He has two shorthanded goals this season including one against the Coyotes on Saturday.
Kreider has also been a dominant force on the power play this season. He sets up in front of the net, screens goalies effectively, and consistently deflects pucks on goal. He has also used his strength to get good positioning to score on rebounds. He leads the NHL with 14 power-play goals and is tied for the NHL lead with 29 goals this season.
Like Trouba, Kreider has shown a knack for making big plays late in games or when the team is struggling. He has been one of the Rangers’ best players on the power play, penalty kill, and at even strength.
For Trouba and Kreider Moving Forward
After missing the playoffs last season, the Rangers are off to a 27-11-4 start to this season, and Trouba and Kreider have played a huge role in New York’s improved play. They have played with physicality, played well defensively, and also produced offensively.
Though the Rangers have not named a captain this season, both Kreider and Trouba have played like captains. Both are playing to their full potential and they are two of the driving forces behind the Rangers’ strong start this season.
I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, rooting for the Rangers, Yankees, Giants, and Knicks. When my dream of playing shortstop for the Yankees fell short, I started writing about sports instead. I’m a proud graduate of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland.