The phone calls and text messages probably are flooding Jeff Gorton’s cell phone regarding forward Chris Kreider ahead of Monday’s trade deadline, but the recent performance of the New York Rangers might give the general manager pause on considering a trade.
Kreider will take the ice Saturday night when the Rangers host the San Jose Sharks and look to continue their hot streak in the final game before the trade deadline.
Kreider, whose 24 goals are third on the Rangers, can be an unrestricted free agent following this season. While there is significant interest from upper-echelon teams in acquiring him, multiple reports have surfaced that the sides are working hard to reach a new contract for the former first-round pick, who made his NHL debut in 2012.
The Rangers enter Saturday with six wins in seven games and nine wins in their last 12 games. New York is five points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference after earning a 5-2 win in Carolina on Friday night.
“By no stretch of the imagination are we anywhere near where we need to be,” Rangers coach David Quinn said. “There is a lot of work to do but we put ourselves in a position late in the hockey season where still our season is very, very meaningful.”
“We can’t worry too much about the standings,” New York’s Ryan Strome added. “We have to chip away here. We know that if we keep playing the way we’re playing we’re going to win more often than not.”
New York has scored 11 goals in its last two games since a frustrating 3-1 home loss to the Boston Bruins on Sunday. On Friday, five different players scored, including Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin, who each had three-point nights.
Zibanejad enters Saturday with seven goals and nine assists over his last nine games. Panarin has four goals and five assists during an eight-game points streak.
The Sharks are well out of the playoff race and could make a few more trades before the deadline. San Jose already dealt defenseman Brenden Dillon to Washington on Tuesday and it is possible 40-year-old franchise icon Joe Thornton could be dealt.
San Jose is 5-8 in its last 13 games and is coming off a 2-1 loss in New Jersey on Thursday that halted a four-game road winning streak.
The Sharks are missing Tomas Hertl (torn ACL, MCL) and Erik Karlsson (broken thumb) to season-ending injuries but will get Evander Kane back from a three-game suspension for elbowing Winnipeg’s Neal Pionk on Feb. 14.
On Thursday, the Sharks were held to one goal on 37 shots, went 0-for-3 on the power play, allowed six power plays and allowed the tiebreaking goal to P.K. Subban on a man advantage in the third period.
“Those are the games where you sort of see the lack of offense, that lack of skill that is out of our lineup,” Sharks interim coach Bob Boughner said. “You can get by some nights with it, get a power play goal or get a couple of bounces and you get some puck luck.”
The Rangers have won the past four meetings and are 8-2-1 in the past 11 meetings with the Sharks.
–Field Level Media