Chris Kreider’s Legacy Is At Stake
On September 29, 2018, David Wright took the field for the last time. He was met with cheers, and as he left, there were tears. That put the cap on a career which was not quite Hall of Fame worthy, but it did not put an end to his legacy.
No, even without a Hall of Fame induction or a World Series, Wright will forever be a beloved member of the New York Mets. One day he will be in the Mets Hall of Fame, and very likely, he will have his number retired. This was all possible because he signed a discounted extension to say a Met for his entire career.
This is something which Chris Kreider should be contemplating at this very moment.
Kreider first came to the Rangers in 2012, and his first ever professional goals were game winners in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Akin to Wright, Kreider’s early career was on very good teams, but as we know the Rangers had a far superior run than the Mets did.
In his first six years, Kreider played for a Rangers team who made the playoffs, and the Rangers had made the Conference Finals in three of four years. In the playoffs, Kreider has found an ability to raise his game and to give the Rangers a key goal scorer.
Even with that, there is some degree where Kreider has been viewed as disappointing. In his eight year career (really seven), he has yet to reach the 30 goal mark, and he has surpassed 50 points just twice. Even with that said, he has been an important and very good player with the Rangers who has provided grit, and he is in the midst of what is the best year of his career.
That coincides with his being a pending free agent putting the Rangers in a position of needing to make a decision on him. While it was easier for the Rangers last year with Mats Zuccarello with the team being far out of the playoff race, this Rangers team is surging and is only six points out of a playoff spot with the second best goal differential among Wild Card contenders.
Kreider is a key part of this team, and given his playoff mettle, he could be the veteran who could help power the Rangers to a surprise run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Then again, like we saw with Ryan Callahan, the Rangers could flip Kreider at the trade deadline because they can’t agree to a contract extension.
That is what makes this Rangers organization so well run. They have taken a macro look at this team. Their focus is not solely on one year but also the future. Looking at this Rangers team, this is year one of what could be a very look run. After all, they’re knocking at the door of the playoffs with the youngest team in the league.
Hopefully, there is a Stanley Cup coming, and if that Stanley Cup does come, it is a game changer.
One of the reasons Adam Graves is a beloved Ranger and his number hangs from the rafters is because he was a member of that 1994 Rangers team.
Looking at Graves, he had a similar career to what Kreider has had. Kreider’s incident with Carey Price is akin to Graves’ incident with Mario Lemieux. Both played for Rangers team who were Cup contenders, had relatively frustrating careers, and they both rose to become Alternate Captains. Right now, on the ice, the big difference is Graves had that 50 goal season in 1994 (second time in Rangers history), and he helped lead the Rangers to their first Stanley Cup in 54 years.
Between that and his charitable work, Graves is a beloved Ranger. He’s still a Ranger who shows up for team events, and he is there helping young skaters get their gear when they sign up to be Junior Rangers. Adam Graves is a Ranger not only because he played for the team, but also because he won a Cup here.
Even if Graves isn’t in the Hockey Hall of Fame, he has a legacy and a home with the Rangers.
If Kreider stays, that can be his legacy. By signing an extension, he can be a Ranger for his entire career. If he wins a Cup, his number will be retired by the team. That is something which will likely not be present for the next stop in his NHL career.
Naturally, if Kreider signs an extension, it would likely come at a discount. Of course, he could get things he wants in return. He could get a NMC, and given how it is currently vacant, he could push to get himself named Captain. Mostly, he could give himself to be a career Ranger who wins a Stanley Cup and have his number retired.
Mostly, by staying, Kreider gives himself a legacy with an Original 6 Team. For Kreider, that is really what is at stake during these extension talks.