Chris Kreider has been a reliable if unspectacular contributor to the Rangers since 2009, when they drafted him 19th overall.
Now, his late breakout is providing New York the spark it needs to make a run at its first Stanley Cup since 1994.
The 30-year-old scored his NHL-leading 18th power-play goal of the season in Wednesday’s 5-3 victory over the Blues — the most for any Ranger since Jaromir Jagr (24, 2005-06).
Kreider — the league’s third-leading goalscorer — is proving even more valuable than the Rangers imagined when he signed a seven-year, $45.5 million extension in February 2020.
- His $6.5 million cap hit ranks third on the team — but is tied for just 84th in the league.
- It’s significantly less than the hits of either Toronto’s Auston Matthews ($11.6M) or Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl ($8.5M) — the NHL’s co-leading goalscorers (37).
- Kreider’s 35 goals are a career high, and he’s on pace to top his career points mark (53).
New York currently trails Pittsburgh by one point for second place in the Metropolitan Division and has the 10th-best odds (+2000*) to hoist the Cup.
With a good move or two before the March 21 trade deadline, the Blueshirts could very well compete deep into spring. Their $6.5 million of projected cap space gives them plenty of room to do it.