With the NHL trade deadline quickly approaching, it’s time to start theorizing which notable names could make a huge fantasy splash via trade over the next few weeks. New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider has been a huge source of trade speculation over the past year, with that chatter rising now that he’s only a few months from the end of his contract.

The Athletic lists Kreider as the number one option on the NHL trade board, and TSN has him as the second-most interesting trade piece (behind the injured Jason Zucker). Given the Rangers have next to no chance at making noise in the playoffs, they’d almost certainly benefit by capitalizing on the rental market for the speedy grinder who has been excellent in bangers league formats for fantasy owners.

In fact, Kreider is among a handful of wingers who is a must-own in any multi-cat format, even if he’s occasionally fairly uninteresting from a points-league perspective. The Rangers winger has never paced for 60 points over an 82-game season, and yet he’s been a key member of some of my fantasy championship teams. After a slow start, Kreider has been somewhat instrumental in the mid-season rise of a team that was originally believed to be in the Alexis Lafreniere sweepstakes before the season began. Here are Kreider’s splits this year:

 

GP

G

A

Pts

82-Game Pace

Oct. 1- Dec. 6

28

6

7

13

38

Dec. 7 – Jan. 10

15

8

8

16

87


An 87-point Kreider? Sign me up. Those numbers are certain to regress, but they are still exciting for fantasy owners who likely drafted the power forward late, or were able to grab him off the waiver wire. And while the point splits are stark, here are Kreider’s per-game paces of some back-end fantasy categories as well:
 

 

GP

SOG/game

Hits/game

PIMs/game

Blocks/game

Oct. 1- Dec. 6

28

2.0

1.9

1.1

.8

Dec. 7 – Jan. 10

15

2.9

1.7

.7

.5


So even when Kreider hasn’t made a mark on the scoresheet, his back-end production has been consistent. This is exactly what you’re looking for in multi-cat skater depth: someone who very rarely leaves a game with a scoresheet of all zeroes.

The possibility of Kreider moving to another team begs an interesting question: would a trade help or hurt the veteran winger’s fantasy value? At 17:46 minutes of average time on ice, Kreider is playing the minutes of a fringe top-line winger. He’s also receiving a ton of power-play usage, as he’s skated over 67 percent of the Rangers’ power-play time this season. Despite starting the year outside the top line, he’s lately been playing on a line with Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich, a spot where he’s been historically very productive.

A few eastern conference contenders are rumored to be in on Kreider, including the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning. In Boston, Kreider would almost certainly line up on a second line with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk, and likely snag DeBrusk’s net-front spot on the top power play. In Tampa, Kreider would need to hope for the top line of Stamkos – Point – Kucherov to be split to maintain high-end fantasy relevance, but he could also find a spot on that top power play to the chagrin of Alex Killorn’s fantasy owners.

Another interesting possibility for Kreider would be Pittsburgh, where he’d fill a big hole left by Jake Guentzel’s recent upper-body injury. He’d likely be playing top-line, top-power play minutes in the event of that move, though it’s slightly more difficult to see the Rangers trading him within the Metro Division.

As far as Western Conference teams who have expressed interest in Kreider, both the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche were mentioned by Elliotte Friedman on a recent episode of the 31 Thoughts podcast.

Colorado would be an interesting spot, as Kreider would add to a deep winger group. With Gabriel Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen, Andre Burakovsky, Joonas Donskoi, and J.T. Compher, the Avs already have one of the deepest wing-groups in the league. The question for Kreider would be where he slots in. If the Avs kept an over-powered top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Rantanen, and Landeskog, you can imagine Kreider would still be able to put up decent numbers with Nazem Kadri and Burakovsky or Donskoi on a second line. There is also the possibility they use the addition of Kreider to experiment by pushing Landeskog down to the second line – a look they toyed with earlier this season.

In St. Louis the wing-depth isn’t quite as deep. Kreider would be joining a top six that is hoping to see the return of Vladimir Tarasenko sooner than later. In a best-case scenario for fantasy owners, Kreider could potentially be on the left side of a Brayden Schenn or Ryan O’Reilly-centered line with Tank on the other side. More likely, he’d factor in on the left side of O’Reilly and David Perron, while Tarasenko misses the rest of the regular season. That would give the Blues a bit more flexibility and depth through the middle-portion of their roster, but not necessarily a better spot for Kreider in fantasy.

If I’m a Kreider owner looking ahead to the trade deadline, I’m honestly hoping he stays in New York, where his current deployment has him sitting as a realistic high-50s point player with excellent peripherals. If he is to be moved over the next few weeks, I’m hoping it’s to Pittsburgh. If not, the Avalanche, Blues and Bolts could offer interesting fantasy value, depending on how lines shake out. It’s tougher to see Kreider hanging on to his current fantasy relevance if he is relegated to a second line in Boston.

If you have questions about a possible Chris Kreider trade, you can contact me @burnett_hockey or @avgtimeonice.