With the trade deadline inching closer, the New York Rangers will need to decide whether to sign Chris Kreider to a new contract or trade him.
In the meantime, Kreider will look to continue his surge Thursday night when the Rangers visit the Minnesota Wild in Minneapolis for the second game of their three-game road trip.
Kreider scored twice in Tuesday's 4-1 win at Winnipeg, getting a goal at the end of the first period and a power-play goal in the second. Those goals gave him six goals in his last seven games, 10 goals in his last 13 games and 27 points (16 goals and 11 assists) in his last 26 contests.
Kreider's big game gave the Rangers a fifth win in their last seven games and improved them to 9-5 in their last 14 since dropping three in a row Dec. 31-Jan. 4. It also helped the Rangers move within nine points of the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Rangers have six games before the Feb. 24 trade deadline to make a decision on Kreider, who is an unrestricted free agent after the season.
"I've been very lucky my whole time in New York," said Kreider, who joined the team in 2012.
Kreider's big night occurred during another big performance from rookie goaltender Igor Shesterkin, who withstood a concussion scare and made 42 saves. He was examined during the final 6:04 of the first period and made 30 saves after coming back to improve to 5-1 since making his NHL debut on Jan. 7.
"He gets to the right places, he fights through traffic," New York defenseman Jacob Trouba said. "He's just got all the attributes of a good goalie."
Minnesota is in a similar situation as the Rangers with the Wild weighing whether or not to trade or keep certain players. The Wild already dealt away Jason Zucker to Pittsburgh for Alex Galchenyuk on Monday, and general manager Bill Guerin hinted there could be more deals depending on how the team plays.
"I can promise you this: If there is quit, there will be more trades," Guerin said. "So I wholeheartedly expect this team to compete for a playoff spot. We're right there, and if there's any signs of anybody taking their foot off the gas, that will be an indication."
Minnesota has five games left before the deadline and entered Wednesday four points out of the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
After the trade, the Wild rolled to a 4-0 home win over the Vegas Golden Knights and improved to 7-3-0 in their last 10 games since a four-game losing streak Jan. 5-14.
Kevin Fiala continued his recent surge with a goal and two assists. He set up power-play goals by Jared Spurgeon and Zach Parise and has five goals and five assists in his past five games. The Wild are 15-for-34 on the power play in the last 11 games.
"I hope he can be like this every night. I mean, if he can, then great, he's come of age," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said of Fiala. "It's just that right now, he's in a good place, and I don't want to bug him."
Minnesota is 4-0-1 in its last five meetings with the Rangers. New York halted a four-game losing streak in the series with a 3-2 home win on Nov. 25 when defenseman Tony DeAngelo scored 32 seconds into overtime.
--Field Level Media