Chris Kreider, whose long-term future with the Rangers remains uncertain, received a lukewarm vote of confidence from team president John Davidson on Thursday.
“I totally expect him to be in camp,” Davidson told NHL.com. “It’s hard to make promises. Things change, but Chris is a valued member of the New York Rangers and I look forward to him having a great camp and a great run with us.
“He’s got one year left, and that should be a whole lot of importance to him to come in and have a great camp and a great year, and we’ll just see where it all goes.”
Kreider’s future became uncertain after the Rangers signed 27-year-old star winger Artemi Panarin to a seven-year, $81.5 million deal (annual salary-cap hit just over $11.6 million,) on July 1, the opening of NHL free agency. The Blueshirts signings of Jacob Trouba (seven years, $56M, cap hit $8M), and Pavel Buchnevich (two years, $3.25 million per season) also will make it difficult for the Rangers to keep the veteran.
The Rangers did clear some cap space by buying out the remaining two years of defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk’s contract at $6.65 million per season, saving nearly $5.2 million in cap space.
But it’s still not clear if the Rangers are hoping or planning to sign Kreider to a new deal.
“We’ll deal with that,” Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton said. “We’ll continue to talk to Chris and see what’s next for him, but we’ll start with training camp, get him going on the right path, hopefully he’s helping us win games, and then we’ll figure it out.”
Kreider can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2020. He tied his NHL career best with 28 goals last season, and his 52 points was one fewer than his best.