We are less than a week away from the Feb. 24 NHL trade deadline and rumors are flying around like a Russian gymnast on speed. Probably the most sought after player in this year’s group of trade rumors is New York Rangers’ left wing Chris Kreider. He is in the final year of his contract and will become an unrestricted free agent (UFA) after this season. The 28-year-old has played his entire career with the Rangers while being one of the most popular players on the team. Kreider does have a modified no-trade clause, meaning, in his case, he submits an 11-team list of places he won’t go to.
The two best bets to land Kreider right now are the Boston Bruins or Colorado Avalanche. There are some other teams showing interest, such as the Pittsburgh Penguins or St. Louis Blues; however, the growing talk is the Avalanche and Bruins are zeroing in on the 6-foot-3, 218 pound power forward from Boxford, Massachusetts. Both teams have a legitimate shot at winning the Stanley Cup and seem interested in parting with some talent, prospects or draft picks to bring Kreider in for a playoff run.
Will Kreider Go Back Home?
Aside from being on top of the league standings, the Bruins have one feather in their cap in regards to Kreider; his hometown is about 30 miles from downtown Boston and the Bruins may feel an added incentive to bring him in. He would immediately be a fan-favorite and Bruins’ faithful would definitely appreciate general manager Don Sweeney for making the trade.
Some names that are being mentioned and possibly already have been offered in a Kreider deal with the Rangers are Oskar Steen, Anders Bjork, Danton Heinen and Wiley Sherman. Nothing has been confirmed but all of these players could make sense for both teams.
Steen is a smaller center at 5-foot-9, 186 pounds who plays more of a grinder role, similar to what Kris Draper once did with the Detroit Red Wings, and is projected to be a third or fourth-line player in the NHL. He’s starting to get more playing time with Boston’s minor league team, Providence Bruins, and his production level is picking up. Bjork is an American-born player who’s had 18 points in 52 games with the Bruins this season. Scouts say he definitely has the speed and skill to do well at the NHL level but there isn’t much room for him in the Bruins’ lineup right now.
Heinen is a two-way player who can play all three positions up front. He likes to go hard to the net and get his nose dirty when need be. Sherman is a 6-foot-6, 200 pound stay-at-home defenseman who would take up space in the slot and be a nice addition to the Rangers’ defensive corps.
Will the Avs Get Kreider?
Kreider is having a career year statistically while bringing quiet leadership to the locker room and lineup. Colorado is going to have to give to get and will probably do so with prospects and or draft picks, as they don’t want to break up their nucleus this season. Colorado has over $6 million in cap space, which will leave some extra room to make another move if they attain Kreider, the hottest player on the trade market and his $4.625 million salary.
Conor Timmins is a name that has been tossed around along with Shane Bowers or Martin Kaut. Either of these players along with a draft pick or two might seal the deal.
Timmins is a 6-foot-2, 185 pound, left-handed defenseman. He’s plus-3 with 22 points in 32 games playing for the Avalanche’s minor league affiliate Colorado Eagles. The 21-year-old is one of the Avs’ top prospects and would be a nice player to strengthen the future back end for the Rangers. He’s signed until 2021 and will be a restricted free agent (RFA) after that.
Bowers and Kaut are two other players the Avs may send over to New York in a Kreider trade. Bowers, a first-round pick in 2017, is a 20-year-old center out of Boston University where he made the Hockey East All-Rookie Team in 2018. Kaut is a right winger from Czechoslovakia and was the 16th-overall pick in the 2018 Draft. He’s a 6-foot-2, 190 pound, two-way center who’s projected to be a top-six forward when he cracks an NHL roster. Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic said of him, “Martin plays a complete, two-way game. He competes, he’s strong on the puck. He’s got a great shot, and he’s a pure goal scorer.”
What Would It Look Like?
If a trade for Kreider does happen between the Rangers and either the Bruins or Avalanche, headlines might look something like this:
Bruins go all in: Acquire Kreider for Heinen and Two Prospects
Bruins give up prospects: Steen, Sherman, Plus a Draft Pick for Kreider
Boston has a pick in each round of this year’s draft, so they could unload a couple if they really want Kreider and not feel too much of a dent there.
As far as a Rangers/Avalanche deadline trade:
Avs cash in: Get Kreider for Timmins and Two Draft Picks
Rangers deal Kreider: Get Two Prospects From Avs
Avs Give Up Two Prospects and a Pick for Kreider
As of now, the Avalanche don’t have a second-round pick in the 2020 Draft, so that’s something to keep in mind as well.
The Rangers might be able to squeeze a little extra out of either of these teams come Saturday or Sunday and cash in on an extra prospect or draft pick for Kreider. The Avs will likely be willing to give up even more since they have been hit with the injury bug of late, so the price may increase a great deal to pry Kreider from the Rangers.
Pretty much nobody in New York aside from New York Islanders fans wants to see Kreider go but that seems to be what is on the horizon, especially since there seems to be little or no progress in contract negotiations between him and the Rangers. The closer the deadline gets, the more teams might be willing to give up to improve their chances at raising the Stanley Cup and both the Avalanche and the Bruins are hoping to do so come June.