Hours before his arbitration hearing, 23-year-old Chris Kreider and the New York Rangers agreed to a two-year deal worth $4.9 million. This deal was done after New York locked up Mats Zuccarello to a one-year deal. While I’m not a big fan of Zuccarello’s contract, Kreider’s new deal is exactly what the Rangers needed and received.
It’s been noted how Rangers GM Glen Sather loves these “bridge” deals. In a sense, “bridge” deals are show-me contracts, where these restricted free agents would need to prove their worth over the next year or two before receiving a big deal from the team or not. Kreider will be 25 when this new deal is up, which would be near the start of his prime. If he performs as well as he is now or even better, he’ll be able to cash in. That’s a win for both sides because Sather keeps one of his key pieces for two years at a cheap price, while Kreider gets paid solid money for a couple years and can play his way to a bigger deal.
The Boston College graduate evolved from a constant call-up or send down with John Tortorella to a man with a role in Alain Vigneault‘s system. Kreider finished the regular season with 37 points in 66 games and became a main player in the team’s power play, which saw major increase from the previous season. His ability to play in front of the net also helped the Rangers offensively.
I see this ending up similar to Derek Stepan. Kreider will play his two-year deal exceptionally well and earn a long-term deal with the Rangers. While Stepan hasn’t done the latter yet, I’m confident that will happen after next season with him. The only two restricted free agents New York has left are Derick Brassard and John Moore. While Brassard is important to the team, his contract demands could see him changing uniforms soon, so locking up Kreider, a young player with huge upside, is one of the best deals the Rangers have made so far all offseason.