It’s probably not the way many thought New York’s trade deadline day would go, but the Rangers made a pair of substantial announcements with big ramifications Monday. The good news is that left winger Chris Kreider has been re-signed by New York to a seven-year deal with an average annual value of $6.5 million. The bad news is that star rookie goalie Igor Shesterkin and fellow Russian Pavel Buchnevich had been involved in a car accident and that Shesterkin will miss time due to a rib injury.
Starting with Kreider, this signing kills a lot of TV chatter, since he was the biggest trade chip available at the deadline this season. The fast, two-way player would have been the type of addition who could help put a team over the top and at 28, he still has a lot of miles on him.
But those are also reasons why the Rangers do well in keeping him. He’s a pretty valuable commodity for a franchise that is beginning to come out of a rebuild.
New York has a number of alluring young players still finding their way in (or to) the NHL and as the Rangers become more competitive in the coming years, they’ll need that veteran connective tissue that Kreider can provide (Mika Zibanejad is another good example of a guy who has been in town for awhile now).
Though Kreider hasn’t hit 30 goals in an NHL season yet, he’s already at 24 and could very well break the mark in a couple weeks. The powerful winger has flirted with the number before, netting 28 on two previous occasions. The new $6.5 million stipend is very reasonable for a player of Kreider’s standing and the term is very favorable for the left winger. Will New York still be getting value out of Kreider in the final years of the extension? That remains to be seen. Though he is a strong, athletic guy, Kreider has also seen his fair share of injuries over the years. All in all, this should be seen as a positive for the Rangers, who are betting on the young cast that GM Jeff Gorton has assembled, while seeing that the group isn’t that far off. Kreider will help this group – which includes Kaapo Kakko, Adam Fox and Vitali Kravtsov – develop and mature at the NHL level and hopefully, if you’re a Rangers fan, eventually do some playoff damage.
In the short-term, the Shesterkin news is pretty wretched. Not only was the Russian rookie playing some outstanding hockey in the New York net, but his absence right now complicates a potential Alexandar Georgiev trade. The Rangers appeared to have a great trade chip in Georgiev, but with the post-season still a possibility, maybe they don’t want to deal him now. You could gamble on Henrik Lundqvist rediscovering his magic for a couple weeks, but New York is already life-and-death for a playoff spot and there is really no margin for error.
Perhaps, however, the Rangers simply do what’s best for the future and if Georgiev provides a big return, they do the deal anyway.