On a morning that started off bleak due to the stunning news Team President John Davidson delivered on a conference call that both Igor Shesterkin and Pavel Buchnevich suffered minor injuries in a car accident last night in Brooklyn, the Rangers also had some good news.
After Davidson revealed that Shesterkin suffered a non displaced rib fracture that should sideline him two to four weeks while noting that Buchnevich is day-to-day, he then positively announced that the team had reached agreement on a new contract extension with Chris Kreider.
Indeed, the two sides worked together and hammered out a seven year deal worth an average cap hit of $6.5 million. The 28-year old left wing has put together his best stretch with 18 goals and 14 assists over the last 32 games since Dec. 8. With 24 goals and 21 assists for 45 points in 60 games, Kreider ranks fourth in team scoring. His nine power play goals place him second behind Mika Zibanejad, who has 10. His five game-winners pace the team. Fifteen of his 24 goals have come at even strength along with 32 of his 45 points.
When all was said and done, the Rangers wanted to keep Kreider, who wanted to stay. The difference had previously been term and money with the Blueshirts unwilling to go seven years. However, by front loading their offer, they were willing to go the extra year to get it done. Both sides deserve credit. They made enough progress to finalize a new contract that could keep Kreider on Broadway through 2027. He was also assured Seattle protection from the expansion draft.
As much as it stinks about Shesterkin, who will need to rehab his injury and hopefully get back before the end of the season, today is a good day for the franchise. They decided they’re better off with Kreider, who’s a top six forward that is not only a key performer on the ice, but a leader off it as well. His leadership has been a big part of the team’s improvement. While the remarkable Artemi Panarin gets much of the credit, both Kreider and Zibanejad have been instrumental during the 10-3-0 run that has them within four points of the playoffs.
Tomorrow’s starter Alex Georgiev had nothing but praise for Kreider choosing to stay. For the 24-year old backup goalie, there’s no time like the present. He now will be counted on to deliver down the stretch along with Henrik Lundqvist. Tomorrow night’s game at the Islanders is pivotal.
The Isles made their own noise by acquiring Rangers killer Jean-Gabriel Pageau from the Senators for a first, second and third round pick. They then signed the gritty two-way pivot to a six year extension worth $5 million AAV.
At last check, GM Lou Lamoriello was working on a potential trade for Zach Parise, who waived his no-trade clause. If they can reach agreement with the Wild and make it work under the salary cap, Parise would be a big addition for a low scoring team that relies on their grit and team defense to win. They are currently in the first wildcard with 76 points. Six up on the Rangers.
Regarding the presser which lasted over two minutes, Davidson was sure to emphasize that both Buchnevich and Shesterkin were wearing their seatbelts and the airbags activated. Thank God they buckled up. It’s crazy to think someone made a U-Turn and banged right into their car being driven by Shesterkin. But if that’s what happened, let’s just feel relieved that both are okay. As JD said, it could’ve been a lot worse.
They’ve been dealt a curve ball. That’s life. It’s also sports. The Rangers now face some adversity. With Buchnevich unlikely for tomorrow’s big game at Nassau Coliseum and Kreider ill, they could be without two-thirds of the top line centered by Zibanejad. If that’s the case, it’ll be interesting to see what David Quinn decides. Does he split up Panarin and Ryan Strome, or move Kaapo Kakko up with perhaps Julien Gauthier or Brendan Lemieux? We’ll see.
I didn’t think Kreider would be back. But I’m sure glad he is. This is an exciting day for the Rangers and their fans. It also sends a message to the players that they believe in this team. Something Georgiev alluded to.
All we can hope for is the best with Shesterkin in his recovery. They’ll reevaluate him in two weeks. Ditto for a shaken Buchnevich. Scary stuff.
As far as other rumors, the Hurricanes were said to have interest in Brady Skjei. But it’s unclear if they were able to free up the cap space necessary to make a deal work. They were said to be offering a first round pick, but obviously needed to dump salary. Jake Gardiner doesn’t exactly excite me. He stinks.
I’d prefer to keep Skjei, who despite his inconsistency, is a more physical defenseman than Gardiner. I like the chemistry the team has. Let it ride. We’ll see where it winds up. No matter what, today is positive.