The trade deadline is just over a month away and one name seems to have floated to the top of the rumor mill: Chris Kreider.
Reports from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman have suggested that a number of teams are interested in trading for the New York Rangers forward. With 31 points in 47 games, the eighth-year Ranger is eyeing a career-high season — he is on pace for 54 points which would set the new mark by a single point.
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So while Kreider is having what could end up being a career year, he has also been a staple for the Rangers with two prior 50-plus-point seasons.
What could complicate things in this case is that Kreider has a no-trade clause in his contract that consists of 11 unknown teams. According to CapFriendly, Kreider is making $4.635 million in the final year of his contract with the Rangers. Should he be dished, the team accepting him will be responsible for paying the pro-rated remainder of his deal for the rest of the season.
Here are five teams Kreider could potentially be suiting up for this season:
The Colorado Avalanche are thriving despite suffering a number of injuries to core players in 2019-20.
So why would they express interest in Kreider? Well, the St. Louis Blues and the Dallas Stars are why. In a tight Central Division race for playoff seeding, the Avs are chasing the defending champions and swapping spots in the standings with the Stars. As the trade deadline approaches, all three teams are likely to be buyers, hoping to add some speed and skill to push them past their division foes.
What gives Colorado the edge is their salary cap situation. As of Jan. 20, the Avalanche have the most space under the cap of any team in the league with $6,788,801.
The window for a Stanley Cup run is open for Colorado as long as they get production out of their young, cheaper players — such as rookie Cale Makar. He is second on the team with 37 points (as a defenseman) while making only $880,833 per-year on his entry-level contract. Makar will get paid down the road, but as long as the Avs aren’t forced to pay him the big bucks, they are free to spend that money elsewhere.
St. Louis Blues
The Blues have also expressed interest, according to Friedman, but unlike Colorado, they do not have same the freedom in cap space. With just $20,326 in the bank via CapFriendly, the Blues will need to make other moves before Kreider could make a move to St. Louis.
St. Louis currently leads the Central Division race with an six-point lead over the Avalanche, but if that lead shrinks, expect the defending champions to be active around the deadline.
Keep in mind that St. Louis is expecting star forward Vladimir Tarasenko to return before the playoffs; even though things are going well now, they should get a late-season boost.
Did someone say repeat?
Tampa Bay Lightning
No team has been better than the Lightning heading into All-Star Weekend. Perhaps the utter disappointment of last season’s end spilled over into the start of the 2019-20 season, but the Lightning have found a spark. Since Dec. 29, Tampa Bay is on a league-best 12-2-0 run.
While they have cut the Bruins’ division lead to six points (with two games in-hand), the Lightning could add some insurance to make sure last season’s surprise ending doesn’t become a tradition.
With over $2 million in available cap space, the Lightning are a strong contender to make a proposal for Kreider both for the remainder of this season and potentially an extension should fortune go their way. Tampa Bay was not among the clubs named by Friedman on ‘Hockey Night in Canada,’ as potential trade partners, but it makes sense as a team that could use a little confidence boost heading into the postseason.
The Penguins are a unique case this season. They have had a number of major injuries to players, including Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but have weathered the storm regardless.
Pittsburgh sits second in the Metropolitan Division within striking distance of the Washington Capitals; the Penguins trail the division leader by four points at the All-Star Break.
But with how things have gone in 2019-20, Pittsburgh might want to add some depth in case the club is struck by another major injury. With a million dollars to play with, the Penguins could turn to Kreider as the quick-fix or look around to other players potentially on the market as options to help them reclaim the Stanley Cup.
Contrary to a team like Colorado whose window is just opening, the Penguins’ might be closing as the majority of their squad ages. But production from the more youthful players, such as Bryan Rust, Jake Guentzel and Jared McCann makes the future bright for one of the league’s most successful franchises of the past decade.
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While the Bruins seem ike a good trade partner for the Rangers, they face a logistical issue. They’re only $712 under the salary cap. Cash-strapped Boston would be forced to get rid of some heftier contracts in order to take on Kreider’s.
Looking at the arsenal that the B’s have, two superstar wingers clearly stand out from the rest of the roster — David Pastrnak (37 goals, 33 assists) and Brad Marchand (21 goals, 44 assists) — while Patrice Bergeron also eyes the 30-goal plateau (currently 21). If they add Kreider, he is far more likely to slot into the second or third line than the first. Jake DeBrusk is currently the second-line left winger with 28 points (14 goals, 14 assists), just a hair less than Kreider’s production.
The Bruins also look poised to make another Stanley Cup run without needing to make a splash at the deadline, so it may be unlikely that they swing for an impact player.
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