Chris Kreider, Rangers not negotiating contract as trade deadline looms

Tony DeAngelo winds up in his own zone and fires a pass that bounces off the end boards onto the stick of Chris Kreider who buries it for the New York Rangers against the New Jersey Devils.

ST. LOUIS – The New York Rangers and Chris Kreider are not negotiating a contract extension, the forward says.

With only a month to go before the NHL’s trade deadline, the Rangers sliding down the standings, and Kreider an impending unrestricted free agent with high value on the rental market, the lack of negotiations is significant.

Kreider’s contract carries a $4.625-million cap hit but $4 million in actual salary this season. His deal includes a modified no-trade clause that allows him to nix a deal to 11 teams.

A replacement for injured teammate Artemi Panarin at NHL all-star weekend in St. Louis, Kreider, 28, is on pace for the highest production of his career.

The speedy winger has scored 17 goals and added 15 assists in 48 games.

Kreider maintains that swirling trade rumours and the uncertainty of his future with the club that drafted him back in 2009 hasn’t affected him this season.

“You might not believe it, but there’s no challenge,” Kreider said.

“I’m just worried about winning hockey games. Winning solves a lot of problems. It’s the old adage and probably a little bit cliché, but we’re taking it one day at a time, one game at a time and just trying to get better — and I think we are getting better. I think our group’s worlds better than we were at the beginning of the year.”

Still, the Rangers (23-21-4) dropped two games before the break and sit 11 points out of a wild-card spot.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman has named the Colorado Avalanche, Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues and Pittsburgh Penguins among the clubs interested in Kreider should he be made available.

During this rebuild, Rangers GM Jeff Gorton has a recent history of flipping UFAs for future assets at the deadline. Last February, he traded Adam McQuaid, Kevin Hayes and fan favourite Mats Zuccarello to contenders.

Does Kreider believe he could follow suit?

“It’s not something I’ve really thought about,” Kreider said.

“I’m a Ranger until they tell me I’m not a Ranger.”

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