New York Rangers extend Chris Krieder, as dominoes fall for next season

Chris Kreider, New York Rangers. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Chris Kreider, New York Rangers. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

On a busy day for New York Rangers President John Davidson, he was able to reach an agreement with veteran forward Chris Kreider on a seven-year contract extension. It was the first of many dominoes that will fall between now and the start of next season.

It’s very hard to find a New York Rangers fan who can’t find something to like about Chris Kreider. Maybe it’s his physical play, or scoring touch, or leadership, or his rare combination of size and speed. Whatever the reason, Kreider has been and is now a good fit for the Blueshirts in a variety of roles. It’s also why team President John Davidson and General Manager Jeff Gorton work so hard to sign the power forward to a long-term contract extension.

The two sides went almost to the deadline before agreeing on a seven-year, $45.5M deal. Had they not come to an understanding, the window to move Kreider at Monday’s trade deadline would have been extremely short. That’s a moot point right now, but his new contract has ramifications for the New York Rangers this season as well as down the line.

Kreider was the first domino. Had nothing else changed the Blueshirts 2020-21 payroll would have been at $78.34M for 18 players. Early projections for next season’s cap range anywhere from $82.5M to $85.6M. At the high end, New York would have had $7.26M, at the low end, $4.16M.

It would have made it very difficult for them to re-sign restricted free agents, Ryan Strome, Tony DeAngelo, and Brendan Lemieux, not to mention unrestricted free agent Jesper Fast. Both Strome and DeAngelo are arbitration-eligible. Tony D is on a near 70-point pace this season, he could get at least $6M next year and more if he and the organization reach a longer-term contract agreement. Strome, who is having a career year, could also be in for a big raise.

Enter domino number two. At the buzzer, Gorton was able to get some breathing room. He sent defenseman Brady Skjei to the Carolina Hurricanes for a 2020 first-round pick. That deal cut $5.25M from the New York Rangers payroll through 2023-24.

Even without Skjei, New York will be up against the cap ceiling next season. Which brings speculation what domino numbers three and beyond are. Somewhat surprisingly Gorton couldn’t find a taker for defenseman Marc Staal.

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Many thought the 13-year NHL vet would have been bought out last summer or at least traded by now. He is due $5.7M next season, the final one on his contract. On the “most likely to go” board, he is either No. 1 or 1-A, along with Brendan Smith who has one more season left at $4.35M.

Before a decision is rendered on either, Henrik Lundqvist may make it irrelevant. Arguably the best goaltender in New York Rangers history, he is now relegated to mostly spectator duty behind Igor Stesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev. Reports are that the 37-year-old wants to talk to Davidson about his future once the season ends. Lundqvist carries an $8.5M cap hit in 2020-21, the last year of his current contract.

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One other interesting domino could fall before next season. After trading for defenseman Jacob Trouba last summer, the Rangers signed him to a seven-year, $56M contract. The team also traded for rookie Adam Fox, who has looked better than Trouba at 11.5 percent of the cost. With DeAngelo looking at a huge increase over the summer, Trouba may be gone from Broadway after only one season.