Before anyone says anything, yes, I know Chris Kreider scored two goals last night, and has 16 goals and 27 points in his last 26 games but there’s only 12 days between now and the NHL Trade Deadline and for the first time in what feels like forever, the Rangers have the marquee player available and are in a prime position as sellers; Kreider, as of this writing, is THE player to acquire for all teams looking to add that one extra player to give them the boost in the postseason.
The Rangers haven’t really been in this position before — in years past there were other teams and players holding the market up — and while the return for a player of Kreider’s caliber could be really bolster the Rangers’ rebuild; what should that return look like?
Well, that’s what we’re going to explore today. The Rangers, rightfully, are going to demand a haul for the Massachusetts forward and we know that there are a small handful of teams that have shown interest in the 28 year old winger, thanks to the Athletics's Pierre LeBrun and we know that teams like the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues have reported significant interest in trading for the big free-agent to be. So, we’re gonna look at what a couple of potential trades for Kreider can look like.
Now, there are going to be some parameters put in place here; I am going to assume that any Kreider trade will involve a 1st round pick coming back, so those will be automatically included in the deal.
If I think the trading team will condition the pick, I’ll mention it. Also, these are deals built on educated guesses based off of past trade deadline deals, anecdotal reports, and team fits so none of these deals have been reported nor am I breaking any kind of news with these proposals. Finally, these deals will be more or less built around the standard “player, pick, prospect” return that is pretty common for high-cost rental players.
Let’s have some fun.
Trade Partner #1: St. Louis Blues
This idea comes from LeBrun’s article above and it makes a lot of sense. The reigning Stanley Cup champs are sitting atop the Western Conference and will be looking to add another forward piece to bolster their offense, especially with Vladimir Tarasenko still nursing a shoulder injury. Kreider fits many of the Blues’ needs and they have the pieces to make it happen.
New York trades Chris Kreider to St. Louis for forward Zach Sanford, their own 2020 1st round pick, and Jordan Kyrou/Klim Kostin.
To break it down a little bit, Sanford is a solid bottom-six NHLer that can fill a variety of defensive roles for the Rangers while still having two years left on a RFA contract at 25 years old. He’s a solid NHL body that the Rangers can plug and play with in the 2nd half of the season. The kicker in this deal are the prospects; Jordan Kyrou and Klim Kostin. The Blues’ prospect pool isn’t the deepest in the league and Kyrou and Kostin represent the best of the bunch. Both are forwards and both fit needs that the Rangers have.
Kyrou was drafted 35th overall in 2016 and is a right handed shooting center and by all reports is smooth-skating playmaking center that can shift to the wing if need be. Kyrou has NHL experience with 4 points in 17 games this year but tore up the AHL leading up to his promotion to the big show. The Toronto native has been protected by St. Louis in past trade deadlines, so if they balk at the inclusion of Kyrou, they might be more open to including a big Russian.
Klim Kostin is a 6’3”, 212 lb winger that plays a solid power forward game that can fit what the Rangers want to build, if they’re still fixated on their “north-south” philosophy. Kostin is by no means a plodder, he has scoring touch and a nose for the net that he’s showcased in international play but hasn’t quite been able to translate it to North American ice (74 points in 169 AHL games, 0.44 P/GP). If St. Louis isn’t moving Kyrou for anyone, then Kostin is the perfect 2nd option from the Stanley Cup champs.
Trade Partner #2: Boston Bruins
A big scoring winger from Massachusetts? You know the Bruins are going to go hard for Kreider. The Bruins are already a strong team and adding Kreider could make them, once again, an absolute nightmare for the Eastern Conference in the playoffs. After coming so close last season, you can bet Boston is chomping at the bit to get the Stanley Cup back.
The Rangers send Chris Kreider to the Boston Bruins for Jack Studnicka, a 2020 1st round pick, and a 2021 conditional 2nd round pick (becomes a 3rd round pick if the Bruins don’t win the Stanley Cup and Kreider doesn’t re-sign).
As we saw a couple years back with the Rick Nash trade, the Bruins just don’t have much in ways of high end prospects, thus the inclusion of the 2nd pick in the deal. Studnicka is a solid enough player in his own right, but in terms of high-caliber prospects, he’s not much of a return here. Studnicka has some nice offensive skill — 41 points in 53 AHL games — and is solid enough in his own end and he fills the desperate need for a center in the organization. He turns 21 at the end of the month, and would give the Rangers another right-handed center for the prospect pool.
I really don’t think the Rangers and Bruins fit easily as trade partners in these scenarios.
Had the Pittsburgh Penguins not made a trade for Jason Zucker, it is fair to say they’d have had interest. Had this story been scheduled for last week, there’s a good chance a proposal involving them would have ended up on this list.
There’s bound to be more teams than St. Louis & Boston who’ll show interest in Kreider, but it comes down to having the right package of assets to convince the Rangers that dealing him makes the most sense.
With that said, these are just a couple of options the Rangers will probably have to contend with over the next couple of weeks and it is going to get crazier the closer we get to the February 24th trade deadline, so all of this could be obsolete by the time it gets published.