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The Rangers lock up Chris Kreider for 2 years, again dodging arbitration

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The New York Rangers avoided arbitration with another key forward on Wednesday, and this one came down to the wire. Hours before their scheduled arbitration hearing, the team announced that they had come to terms with restricted free agent Chris Kreider. Although terms of the deal were not disclosed, it is reportedly for two years, and will carry an annual cap hit of $2.475 million.

Kreider was selected by the Rangers in the first round (19th overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. After winning his second NCAA Championship with Boston College, he burst onto the NHL scene during the 2012 postseason. Without ever playing a regular season NHL game, Kreider was inserted into the Rangers lineup. He proceeded to put up seven points in 18 games.

After splitting time between the NHL and AHL during the 2012-2013 season, the 23-year-old Kreider finally cracked the Rangers lineup for good (aside from a six-game AHL stint) last season. In 66 games for the Blueshirts last season, Kreider had 17 goals and 37 points. He was even better in the postseason, with 13 points in 15 games.

Kreider was looking for a contract worth $2.8 million in arbitration, while the Rangers submitted a deal with an average annual value of $2.05 million. The two sides just about split the difference.

The deal should come as no surprise for Blueshirts faithful. On Tuesday, the Rangers came to terms with leading scorer Mats Zuccarello on a one-year deal; thus avoiding his arbitration hearing scheduled for July 25. The Rangers haven’t actually gone into an arbitration with a player since 2009. That streak will come to an end if they are unable to sign forward Derick Brassard before his hearing, scheduled for July 28.