Here’s my story from The Journal News and Lohud.com:
By Rick Carpiniello
The Rangers once again avoided arbitration with one of their restricted free agents Wednesday when they got in under the wire with a two-year agreement with winger Chris Kreider.
Kreider signed a two-year deal worth $4.95 million — he will receive $2.35 million in 2014-15, $2.6 million in ’15-16 for an annual cap hit of $2.475 million — shortly before his arbitration case was to be heard.
A day earlier, Rangers GM Glen Sather reached a one-year, $3.5 million deal with Mats Zuccarello, who also was headed to arbitration. It is believed that Sather will continue to negotiate an extension to Zuccarello’s contract.
The signings leave the Rangers a little more than $7 million in cap space, with two of their restricted free agents still unsigned. Derick Brassard, who has a Monday arbitration hearing scheduled, will probably get more than $4 million per, though Sather is aiming to lock him up for multiple years. If he gets to arbitration, Brassard could then become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Defenseman John Moore, who has no arbitration rights, will probably come in at less than $1 million per, though it could take time to get that deal done since Moore has little leverage.
The Rangers still have not replaced, and will not be able to replace, Brad Richards via free agency. They will almost certainly have to fill out their roster with their own inexpensive young players, such as J.T. Miller, Jesper Fast or Oscar Lindberg.
Kreider, 23, who started last season in the minors, established himself as a top-line winger and power forward with 17 goals and 20 assists in 66 games. He reached free agency a year early because the Rangers started his three-year entry-level contract when he was signed for the 2012 playoffs.
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