The New York Rangers are six points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and if their chances of the reaching the postseason don't improve ahead of the Feb. 24 trade deadline, they could join the list of sellers looking to deal veterans for draft picks and/or prospects.
One Rangers player who would be a tremendous addition for a Stanley Cup contender is left winger Chris Kreider. The 28-year-old forward is eligible for unrestricted free agency in July and has a team-friendly $4.625 million salary cap hit for this season.
Kreider already is drawing interest on the trade market, per Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, but it doesn't sound like the Rangers are looking to make a move anytime soon.
14. Lots and lots of interest in Chris Kreider, no decision yet from the Rangers. "Lots of time," one source said. Again, look at their history. Marc Staal's last contract was signed on Jan. 18, 2015. In 2014, they signed Dan Girardi on Feb. 28. They took Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello down to the wire last year. There's a lot of interest - believed to include contenders who might be happy to wait for cap reasons (Boston, St. Louis) and others who aren't worried about that (Colorado). There's plenty of speculation about Montreal, as the Canadiens could use some beef, but Kreider's partial no-trade affects that.
Here's what Friedman said during Saturday's "Hockey Night in Canada" broadcast:
"All the contenders from Colorado to Boston to St. Louis to Pittsburgh are all believed to be interested in [Kreider]. ... Teams don't believe, right now, the Rangers have made him available, but they are waiting to see if they decide they can't keep him, and they want to trade him, there is a ton of interest."
Kreider is talented enough offensively to provide valuable scoring depth for a contending team on a second or third line. He also could feature on the power play, either as a primary shooter or a big body (6-foot-3, 216 pounds) in front of the net screening the goalie. Kreider has tallied 24 points (11 goals, 13 assists) in 38 games for the Rangers this season, and he's scored more than 20 goals in four of the last five seasons. He plays a heavy game, too, and his power forward skill set makes him an ideal addition for the playoffs because that's when the game slows down and the overall physicality ramps up significantly.
The Bruins would be a good fit for Kreider based on his scoring ability, impressive speed and hard-nosed style of play. He's also a Massachusetts-born player who spent three seasons at Boston College.
The competition for Kreider's services could be fierce, though.
The Rangers are in a favorable position with Kreider if they choose to move him. The top trade target on the market, Taylor Hall, was dealt from the New Jersey Devils to the Arizona Coyotes earlier this month. This left Kreider as one of the top players rumored to be available for contending teams to pursue.
Kreider is without a doubt one of the top players to keep an eye on as the trade deadline approaches.