The New York Rangers have three players slated for arbitration hearings over the next two weeks, making this a busy time of the summer for the club. Young forward Chris Kreider is up first on Wednesday, with Mats Zuccarello slated for an arbitration hearing on July 25 and Derick Brassard looking at a July 28 hearing date.
With Kreider now less than 48 hours from his hearing, both parties have submitted the salary they seek heading into arbitration.
According to Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada, Kreider is requesting a salary of $2.8 million, while the Rangers have submitted a two-year offer with the first year coming in at $1.9 million and the second at $2.2 million. A two-year award at Kreider's requested rate would come in at $5.6 million in total, while the Rangers seek something around $4.1 million, though it's likely that annual average Rangers management is concerned about. That's where the two sides are $750,000 per year apart.
It's not an overwhelming gulf, which would suggest the two sides could very reasonably meet somewhere in the middle before ever stepping foot in the arbitration meeting.
Kreider is coming off his entry-level contract during which he earned an annual average of $1.325 million over three years. He has yet to play a full season with the Rangers, but was essentially a full-time NHLer with the club in 2013-14 having played 66 games thanks to a brief AHL stay and late-season injury.
Kreider put together a solid 2013-14 campaign with 37 points including 17 goals. He also was a key player during the Rangers' run to the Stanley Cup Final with 13 points in 15 games including five goals.
The former 19th overall draft pick has appeared in 89 regular-season games over the last two seasons and has 40 points. He made his NHL debut during the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs and already has 41 postseason games under his belt with 22 points to his name so far.
The 23-year-old is a rather interesting case as his path in the NHL has not exactly been linear. He spent time between the AHL and NHL in 2012-13 and struggled to produce at both levels. Last season may have been more a sign of things to come, but there is certainly plenty more to be proven by the speedster before he hits his big payday.
No question that Kreider appears to be a big part of the Rangers' future, but getting him under a sensible deal is a priority with Zuccarello and Brassard reportedly commanding significant increases in pay.
Given the reported terms presented for arbitration, it seems like both parties are looking at an affordable route. The real question is what kind of term either side can get to in a negotiation prior to arbitration.
The Rangers can start this busy few weeks off right with an amicable resolution with Kreider.