This is what the New York Rangers and Chris Kreider do. They wait until the door to the arbitrator’s office is nearly open and then end the drama with a new contract before walking in.
Two years ago, it was a two-year deal with an annual cap hit of $2.475 million. On Friday, it ended up being a four-year contract with an annual cap hit of $4.625 million.
After a controversial trade earlier in the week, this one is a slam-dunk for GM Jeff Gorton and the Rangers.
First off, it was imperative to head off arbitration, which would have resulted in a one-year deal that would have really given Kreider, 25, some leverage on his next contract, with unrestricted free agency looming.
Instead, the Rangers get him at $4.625 million, which is under Kreider’s submitted ask of $4.75 million for arbitration and well under the $5.25 million he was asking for in a long-term deal that ate up unrestricted free agent years, according to Larry Brooks of the NY Post.
Recently, Jaden Schwartz of the St. Louis Blues received five years at $5.35 million per season. Alex Killorn of the Tampa Bay Lightning went seven years at $4.45 million. So Kreider falls in between those recent contracts, despite the Rangers getting a shorter term on it.
That’s a win.
Kreider posted his second consecutive 21-goal season in 2015-16, with 43 points overall. There’s a lot to love about his game – speed, net presence, that whole cannonball-into-the-opposing-goalie thing – and there’s room for improvement.
Let’s say he doesn’t improve, and the Rangers want to go in a different direction. Well, that’s another win, per Aaron Ward, who broke the signing:
Chris Kreider contract with #NYR has 11 team no trade in last two years. Paid $5M,$5M,$4.5M,$4M.
— Aaron Ward (@NHL_AaronWard) July 22, 2016
So $4 million in actual salary in his final year, and 20 teams to which he can be traded. You have to love that flexibility if you’re a Rangers fan.