Rangers’ raging Kreider-Panarin debate isn’t so simple

Regarding the Rangers, who will be doing their due diligence on the impending free-agent market while keeping their eyes on the blue-chip heavy prospect camp that opens Monday.

1. The most critical, far-reaching decision is this as the unrestricted free-agent interview window opens ahead of July 1: Attempt to extend Chris Kreider for somewhere around $6.75 million per for six years, or attempt to sign Artemi Panarin for probably at least $11.5 million per for seven years.

Or, alternately, neither, which would mean trading Kreider and declining to make the 27-year-old (28 in October) impending free-agent winger the second- or third-highest paid player in the league.

No one is suggesting Kreider can match Panarin’s elite skill. Funny thing, though, each scored 28 goals last year, though the Columbus winger notched 59 assists to Kid K’s 24. Everyone gets it. All things being equal, you choose Panarin every time.

But nothing about this would be equal. There’d be close to a $5 million difference per year in cost, if not more, by going Panarin’s way. The Rangers would be bringing in an outsider who does his best work on the outside, even if parcels of it can be downright stunning. For $11.5 million per, it better be.

And though it may be unfair to generalize, when is the last time the Rangers threw money at/bribed a free agent to come to New York and it worked out? I’d say Marian Gaborik, who scored 40-plus goals in two of his four seasons chafing under John Tortorella’s direction, but that was 10 years ago.

On the other hand, there have been all these shiny toys over the years, from Scott Gomez and Chris Drury to Wade Redden to Brad Richards to Dan Boyle (thankfully only two years on that one, even if two too many) to Kevin Shattenkirk, who for various reasons all performed less than advertised and expected.

President John Davidson knows Panarin as well as just about anyone (maybe not as well as Florida coach Joel Quenneville, who had him for the first two years of the winger’s career in Chicago), so the Rangers will make an educated decision here.

But $80 million-plus over seven years? Panarin is a talented one, all right, but, A) Is he really worth that, even on the inflationary free-agent market? And, B) Is this necessarily the right time for the Blueshirts to go all in on this player?

Because you know what? Big-time players become available every season. There is a possibility Taylor Hall will become a free agent next summer. Hall or Panarin? That’s an easy one. The 2017-18 Hart Trophy winner every time. And if not Hall, there will be someone else because there always is, and because the NHLPA’s ignorant decision to depress the cap will force teams to shed big-time players with big-time cap hits.

Now, Kreider. The Rangers still have not talked numbers with the winger’s agent. Maybe Matt Keator will insist on a deal that matches the $50 million bonanza over seven years Kevin Hayes was awarded by the Flyers, even if centers generally have more value on the market. But maybe the priority for Kreider will be to get as much as he can from the Rangers. Maybe the Rangers’ priority should be to keep one of their leaders who plays north-south and gets to the net more often than anyone on the roster, even if not quite often enough.

Maybe the Rangers will get blown away by a trade offer for Kreider. Maybe the parties won’t be able to agree on numbers once they are on the table.

Maybe the Rangers go into next season without Kreider or Panarin.

But either/or, apples/oranges, I. Take. Chris.

2. There was Traverse City, training camp and the exhibition games yet to come, but Brett Howden announced his presence as a man among teens at last year’s prospect camp. It is possible similar impressions created by defensemen this year — say by Yegor Rykov or Joey Keane, if not 21-year-old Adam Fox — could have impact on the course of action with Shattenkirk.

3. If the Rangers seek a veteran fourth-line center on the open market (Is that honestly the spot in which Lias Andersson can flourish?), there would be no better choice than Brian Boyle, who has grown into one of the most respected leaders in the league.
And if Kreider goes, Boyle could provide a solid net-front presence on the power play.

4. You know who could add to the fourth line? Calgary pending free agent Garnet Hathaway, who skates, plays a mean-edged game and would come at a reasonable price.

5. If Panarin were to sign for $11.5 million, that would amount to 14.1 percent of the cap, which would become the second-highest percentage hit in Blueshirts’ history. When Scott Gomez signed for seven years at $7.357 million-plus per, he accounted for 14.6 percent of the 2007-08 cap of $50.3 million.

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Source – https://nypost.com/2019/06/24/rangers-raging-kreider-panarin-debate-isnt-so-simple/