After months of speculation, it turns out Chris Kreider isn’t going anywhere.
Rangers president John Davidson announced Monday morning that the team and Chris Kreider have agreed on a seven-year contract extension rather than trading the star winger, who was slated to be a free agent at the end of the season.
According to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun, the contract carries an average annual salary of $6.5 million per season.
“Both sides worked hard at this,” Davidson said. “There was lots of dialogue, it has gone on for a few days and both sides are very happy with the deal we put together.”
Once considered a risky move seeing as the 28-year-old would have been asking for a sizable contract, TSN’s Darren Dreger reported just hours before Monday’s NHL trade deadline that “expectation” is that Kreider will be given a contract extension.
That came just hours after Greg Wyshinski of ESPN reported that negotiations between Kreider and the Rangers “reached an impasse,” adding the Blueshirts did not want to offer more than six years on a hypothetical new deal.
Kreider is having a career season in his eighth year with the Rangers, posting 24 goals in 60 games with the team that drafted him 19th overall in 2009.
Parlaying that into a new deal was expected to be a major roadblock for the Rangers, who are already paying sizable contracts to Artemi Panarin, Jacob Trouba, and Henrik Lundqvist — all of whom will be making at least $8 million next year.
With limited cap space available, Davidson and Co. also have to address the futures of Ryan Strome, Jesper Fast, Brendan Lemieux, Anthony DeAngelo, and Alexandar Georgiev, who will be free agents at the end of this season.
It made Kreider one of the top trade chips believed to be available on the market with teams like the Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues, Boston Bruins, and New York Islanders linked to a possible deal.
Now with Kreider’s new contract taking a projected $6.5 million away next year, general manager Jeff Gorton will have to pull off some financial gymnastics to keep several important contributors at Madison Square Garden next season.