We’re going to take a quick look at the New York Rangers’ transactions at the 2020 deadline by grading the three most significant actions taken by the team.
Extending Chris Kreider
The Rangers’ decision to extend Kreider was the most notable of the day. The team certainly had options, as he was the top rental on the market, but instead re-signed him for seven years and $6.5 million on average.
The Rangers were in a position of strength at the deadline, and could have moved Kreider for future assets that would have furthered their building process — even if they flipped them in the offseason for NHL-ready players, similar to the Adam Fox and Jacob Trouba trades.
Kreider’s extension likely pays more for past performance than future production given that it goes through age 35, and he’s bound to decline as the years go on. But this extension may hint that the Rangers feel they can progress enough to become a playoff team next year, and that likely doesn’t happen without one of their leading wingers. Forward depth is an area this team still has to improve, and it’s even more challenging without Kreider. Plus, the salary cap should increase over the years, especially with expansion and the next TV deal coming up, and the percentage of cap space he takes up should decrease as a result. The sixth and seventh years could be ugly ones, but given that it’s a front-loaded deal, maybe the Rangers wont have Kreider around at that point.
Trading Brady Skjei
At the deadline, the Rangers made one other move: sending Skjei to the Carolina Hurricanes for a 2020 first round pick. As their only other deadline deal, it ensured some sort of future return for the building team.
We all had predictions for what would go down at the trade deadline, but no one expected the biggest trade of the day to involve Brady Skjei. Of course, the Rangers got a lot more than just Carolina/Toronto’s first round pick in this deal. They also created some much-needed cap space, which is a good thing in light of the Kreider extension. Janne Kuokanen, who went to the Devils in the Sami Vatanen deal, would have been an interesting asset to get in return Skjei, but it’s tough to get upset about getting a first round pick here considering how much defensive depth there is in the Rangers’ organization.
Skjei was a fine second-pairing NHL defenseman, but his contract was less than ideal, especially for a team that has a fortune tied up in Jacob Trouba. This also potentially creates some wiggle room to extend Tony DeAngelo, who the Rangers should really consider moving to the left side.
Not moving Jesper Fast
The Rangers are still building, so more movement was likely expected — especially with their pending free agents. Kreider was extended, leaving Fast, Greg McKegg, and Micheal Haley as three players headed for unrestricted free agency.
Retaining Fast doesn’t have to be problematic — not if the team intends to extend him to another team-friendly deal. They certainly could use the depth, and he’s been a key utility player over the years. Rather, the decision is questionable. Will the Rangers let Fast walk on July 1? If so, this decision doesn’t reflect as well because a draft pick likely could have been added in return. Or, will they respond with a more significant raise compared to his current deal? Teams often overpay for depth and run into problems later, and this team should be avoiding that as they already have a lot of cap space tied to a few players.