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Rangers and Kevin Hayes agree to two-year bridge deal

July 22, 2016, by


The Rangers have locked up their last remaining RFA, agreeing to a two-year deal with Kevin Hayes. The deal will carry a $2.6 million cap hit. Hayes will be 26 when the deal expires, with one year left of team control.

I would have liked Hayes to get a longer term deal, but I seem to be in the minority regarding his play. Hayes is a solid 3C producing at 1C levels, and it’s a reasonable assumption that with more playing time, he will produce more as well. Yet others believe that Hayes is lazy, mostly because he sounds like he’s had a lobotomy when he talks.

Hayes will be the teams 3C, likely serving as the primary center for Pavel Buchnevich in mostly sheltered zone starts. He is expected to “rebound” from his “down year” as well.

"Rangers and Kevin Hayes agree to two-year bridge deal", 3 out of 5 based on 5 ratings.
Categories : Signings


  1. Bobby B says:

    I hope he gets serious about his conditioning, and the physical side of his game. Hayes for a big body plays soft and no defense. I am not a big fan of his, time for him to earn his $$$$.

    • Dave says:

      I’d rather he use his solid hockey IQ and offensive talent to put up points.

      • Leatherneck says:

        In order to do that Dave, he needs to get physical…..As for his hockey IQ, he has some but his situational awareness is on the low side

      • Jerry says:

        Dave, his hockey IQ is there, but he was too often pushed around. There is no down side for him to increase his physical state and maybe even push back after being manhandled and lots of times by far smaller opponents.

    • paulronty says:

      Apparently he’s lost ten pounds of baby fat, so maybe he is getting serious about conditioning. He needs to definitely play with more fire and use his body more against the boards. There is a lot of talent there. It will be interesting to see if AV can get major mileage out of some really good young players. He has a bad rep with guys like Hayes, so he needs to become more cognizant about developing their skills, instead of playing it safe with vets, which suggests he’s risk avoidant.

      • Jerry says:

        Paul I couldn’t agree more!!

      • Matt says:

        Yeah, this isn’t going to happen. AV isn’t doing anything different this year. he’d rather get fired than change a frickin’ thing.

        • Egelstein says:

          I hope I’m wrong, but sadly, I expect you are right. I mean, I don’t understand how he stood behind that bench and didn’t think to himself by November (let alone the whole season) “Hmmm…maybe my defensive system isn’t a very good fit for this set of defensemen…” I’d love to be incorrect, but I feel he is stubborn and likely is going to push the same system and process.

          • Walt says:

            could it that AV had that lobotomy that Dave referred to???????????

            Hayes needs to prove he is worthy of this contract, or he goes. The ball is in his court !!!!!!!!!!

            • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

              On Walt’s second point, I completely agree. It’s up to Hayes to prove himself.

          • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

            A calculation was made to opt for rest and recovery over more practice time. Changing a system would have meant practicing and burining out a team that had played more games over the past few seasons than anyone else.

            Boudreau changed his system. Everyone praised him for doing so. Then the Ducks got bounced in the first round and so did he.

            Changing systems is much easier to do in camp than it is mid-season.

            • Egelstein says:

              Fair point, and frankly I usually toss deployment out there along with system – deployment is a lot easier to adjust, of course. With that said, I would have personally never gone into the season with that system in place for that roster. On paper or on the ice, it’s obvious to me both ways – not a good fit.

              • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

                Perhaps so, and a fair point. But the system worked just fine the prior two seasons. Unfortunately, Staal and Girardi regressed largely due to injuries I believe, and other guys just didn’t step up enough to offset what was lost with Hags and MSL. I’m not sure a system change would have really mattered. Sometimes, it’s just one of those years.

                And let’s not forget, “one of those years” still resulted in 101 pts and one could easily have imagined a longer playoff run if we hadn’t had the misfortune of playing the eventual champs, who were red hot, in round one.

            • Ray says:

              The calculation was wrong and obviously so. That doesn’t mean AV is a bad coach. It does mean he did not do a good job with the 2015-16 Rangers.

              It is tough to decide whether to keep a coach who doesn’t seem to be getting the right mileage from his team. IMO, both the Anaheim and NYR GMs got the decision wrong this year.

              OTOH, AV may have told Gorton his approach would be different this year and Gorton liked what he heard. Hope so.

              • Egelstein says:

                Yes, I cling to that hope too. They did meet before it was announced that the coaching staff would remain intact, and by the moves that have been made, Gorton seems to understand that the PK was a problem…so he surely must, I hope, be able to see the defensive performance in a similar light. I think AVs offensive system is effective (albeit I’d like a little less passing and a little more shooting). If he can correct some of the things about the defensive approach to fit the roster better, he’ll be back in my good graces.

                And while I can’t help but to say it might be a longshot…I do also cling to the hope that, to Eddie’s point, a fully healthy G and Staal may help. No doubt they were battling injuries, but I guess we won’t know til next year when we can see the difference how big an impact injuries really were vs. natural regression for those two. We’ll take any little improvements we can get on that side of the puck!

              • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

                I’m forced to agree with your first paragraph, but grudgingly. Clearly, goals weren’t met, so yes, I’d agree that AV did not do a good job this year…or I’d prefer to say not good enough. But far more egregious was the fact we got badly out GM-ed. The Caps and Pens both improved themselves dramatically, and we got worse. So is coaching the primary culprit here. What realistically could have been done that would have resulted in a different outcome? In my opinion, very little, given the mostly B list talent and relative health of the roster.

                I totally disagree with you on the GMs getting it wrong. It’s not even remotely comparable. Boudreau had 4 plus seasons and five chances to make the playoffs in Anaheim. He had rosters that, IMO, were far better talent wise than the Rangers, with A-list stars. In those five chances, he missed the playoffs once and got bounced in the first round twice. He’s won a total of three playoff series in Anaheim in his five opportunities. AV has won five in only three opportunities. And again, I would bet my last paycheck that virtually every talent evaluator out there would take the Ducks roster over the Rangers in any of these least few seasons. No doubt.

                On top of that, Boudreau had just one season left on his deal. AV still has two.

                Given all this, there’s no way that any GM or owner for that matter in any sport (other than George Steinbrenner back in the day)would conclude that based on one “off” season (to the extent 101 pts is an off season) warrants a coaching change following two terrific seasons. Sorry, I don’t believe any GM or owner would do that?

                But going forward? Sure, more than reasonable that a change may be necessary. We shall see. And you may be absolutely correct about what AV and Gorton discussed.

          • Jerry says:

            Ah yes……….. but lets not lose sight of the fact that AV will not have the opportunity to put Boyle on the ice this year. So in fact, by the process of elimination, our D improved

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        Paul, on your first point, I agree. Very good sign about his off-season conditioning. And I agree completely about what he needs to do to be more successful. In addtion, I also agree with you that AV has a bad rep with young players.

        But where I suspect we disagree is whether that rep is deserved or not. Let’s start with the narrative that AV hated the kids in Vancouver and wouldn’t play them enough. Who? Zach Kassian? Jordan Schroeder? Chris Taney? Cody Hodgson? I mean, we aren’t exactly talking about the Triplets here right? And there’s a reason why Mike Gillis was blown out the year after firing AV and bringing in Torts. Beyond the train wreck that was created, Linden probably realized the young players they had were simply not that good. So why on God’s green earth would AV want to play mediocre kids when his job was on the line to win now?

        Now for the Rangers….Let’s take Hayes for example. In his rookie season, didn’t AV play him in 79 games? Didn’t he get substantial minutes and responsibilities? Didn’t we all conclude that the kid had an excellent rookie season? Doesn’t the coach get some credit for that?

        This past season, his play slipped. Some say his work ethic wasn’t strong enough in year two. That’s obviously mere speculation, but there seems to be evidence to support it. Whatever the reason, he clearly wasn’t the same player. Hardly unusual for a young player to have a sophomore slump. And yet AV stuck with the kid, still playing him in the same 79 games, with even more ice time (13:02 ATOI in year one vs 13:40 ATOI last season). He only benched him when he felt his play had slipped so badly that he had no choice. Heck, many of the writers covering the team questioned why AV waited as long as he did to sit the kid. And he went out of his way on breakup day to praise the kid and say he definitely wants him back. Doesn’t sound like the coach is risk averse at all, at least not in this case.

        So are you saying that Hayes strong rookie season was in spite of AV, but his second season slump was because of AV? I hope not, because that would be ridiculous.

        AV’s been a fan of Fast and has played him a great deal since the kid came up, and gave him significant responsibility this season. So another player that doesn’t fit the narrative.

        He’s given Kreider the longest leash imaginable….a stark contrast to Torts handling of Kreider in 2012-13 following his amazing playoff performance the prior season that probably saved Torts’ job.

        In his first season, AV gave significant responsibility and trust to 26yo Zuc, 23yo Stepan and 24yo McDonagh and they thrived.

        He took an immediate liking to Duclair, and played him a great deal. While we will never know for sure, it’s a pretty strong likelihood that the decision to send him back to juniors was Sather’s (with input from Gorton), as was the decision to trade him. And last season, AV was practically gushing when reminiscing about the kid, saying “I love the Duke!” If he didn’t care for the kids, then why say that?

        He got Lindberg in right away this past season, and largely stuck with him despite the fact the kid slumped badly after his hot start (perhaps due to his hip condition). And it was untilmately only because of the acquisition of E. Staal and perhaps the injury that forced Oscar to the bench.

        He took an immediate liking to Skjei, and gave him significant responsibility in the playoffs.

        So, that leaves us with three kids….Miller, McIlrath and Etem.

        Let’s start with Etem. He simply wasn’t good. He may be yet another one of these kids that teases with potential but will never live up to it.

        Miller? Yes, AV was tough on him, especially in his first two years. But the eye test told me and others that this kid was a defensive nightmare the prior two seasons. And indeed, we learned from the Dan Rosen article that the reason AV was so tough on him is that there were indeed work ethic and maturity issues the kid needed to address. And this was confirmed in a scathing commentary on a Rangers post game this season, when reflecting back on the prior two seasons, Dave Maloney stated that management wasn’t even really sure Miller was willing to do what it takes to be an NHL player, which was stunning to hear. So AV gave him tough love, called him out, and this year, we saw a much, much better player. AV played him in every game this season, and stuck with him even when he’d make some pretty bad mistakes. He had earned the coach’s trust.

        And when Miller signed his contract the other day, he admitted that he still has to learn how to “bring it” more consistently.

        How is his handling of Miller any different than how Torts or Keenan would have handled him? I suspect you would have praised both if they had called out and benched the kid as AV did.

        So who does that leave us with? McIlrath. Ok, I have to admit on reflection that you were right. The kid was definitely better than I thought he would be. And, in thinking about the season, now, yes, I think that it would have been beneficial to play him more.

        But let’s not forget, DMAC essentially had a half season and a playoff in the AHL where he really shined. That’s it. Before that, he appeared on his way to being a bust. We all have heard over and over how difficult the transition is for young NHL defensemen, especially those not blessed with great skating ability. To me, it was more than reasonable to be cautious and bring the kid along slowly. Was it too slow? Perhaps. But in the end of the day, would it REALLY have changed the outcome of the season? Hardly. DMAC played every night during the Rangers worst stretch of the season from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, and it changed nothing. There’s nothing tangible that says the Rangers would have had a more successful season if he had played more. Now having served his apprenticeship, I expect DMAC will get every opportunity to prove himself.

        Does AV like his vets, and does he give them more rope? Absolutely. But that’s hardly uncommon with most pro coaches, especially teams that are built to win now. I just don’t think there’s any evidence to support this narrative.

        • Ray says:

          Mostly agree about AV and kids. However, hindsight isn’t always right. I think that with the right coach telling him the right things at the right time, Etem would have been a fine hockey player – and he still may be. OTOH, Etem is the sort of player that most coaches fail with. A good coach (in this particular regard) doesn’t succeed with all of the Etems of the world, or even half of them. But he does break through with a few.

          So failing with Etem is a mark against AV, but a very very tiny mark.

        • paulronty says:

          Couple of things Eddie. In terms of Hayes, what I criticized Av about was how he handled the situation, which was badly. I reflected that Hayes appears to be a very sensitive, even anxious individual & AVs calling him out in the press, undermined his confidence & his play regressed even further. In point of fact, AV later admitted he handled the situation badly & I’ll give him chops for that. As for Duclair, AV did not play him a great deal actually in my recollection. As for how Torts or Keenan would have handled him, well that’s a moot question. But do you recall that excerpt from Jeremy Roenick that I linked to you? Read his account of how Keenan handled him when he first arrived in Chicago. Totally fascinating and I think it would teach you something. Keenan really pushed Roenick because he thought Jeremy played too soft & without commitment. Like I allude to before, he threw kid Roenick into the deep end. Roenick admits that he became the feisty pain-in-the ass player he was because he knew Keenan would accept nothing less. He flew into the deep end head first & he swam like hell. AV does play it safe because he’s afraid to put the kids in tough situations for fear they’ll screw up. That’s obvious to me. He loves Jesper Fast & Tanner Glass. They do put out but to me both those players are limited & overplayed. As Mess was want to say sometimes you have to go for the high risk/high reward play, which may fail or pay off handsomely. AV is afraid to take those risks. If he wants Kreider to be better defensively put him out on the PK, where he’ll learn D just like Grabner did. A guy like Kreider could be invaluable on the PK with his speed, giving him the ability to push the play. That’s how you develop your player. AV is also too unimaginative to use DMAC on the PP. With that cannon shot he could be lethal out there. But he doesn’t even give it a try, while mentioning that DMAC has a great shot. This is where he falls short. It’s not always about not playing people, it’s about improving them by giving them more responsibility.

  2. Spozo says:

    For the first time in how many years the Rangers have a decent amount of cap space open with plenty of time to go in the offseason. Should I be happy or scared at that idea?

    • Walt says:

      Gorton may well turn into a very smart GM, he seems to have a good negotiating skill as well, based on the two contracts signed today !!!!!!!!!

      • Jerry says:

        I don’t have any problem with Gorton’s moves so far. I think considering how his hands are tied, he’s done a very good job.

  3. Brendan says:

    Kreider only had 8 more points than Hayes did over the past 2 seasons, nothing not to like here.

    • Dave says:

      I feel like a lot of people forget how good Hayes actually is. This is a solid point.

      • 43 says:

        I never got the impression that anyone thinks he sucks. Fans had expectations of him, and he fell strikingly short of them, and AV called him out, attributing his struggles to a lack of effort. A coach isn’t going to bring that type of issue to the media unless the issue is drastic, as in Hayes has a severe lack of effort and AV had exhausted all other avenues to resolve the issue. It was really strange of AV to let that kind of info out, but I think he felt he needed to embarrass the kid in order to motivate him. What I’m trying to say is, all his detractors aren’t of the opinion that Hayes is another Tanner Glass, but that he’s sort like Kreider: has all the talent in the world, but needs to put it all together or order for those skills to manifest on the ice completely. Personally, I think Kreider and Hayes are among the most important players in terms of the future of this team. With their development dictating where this team is three, four, and five years from now. AV claiming its Hayes complacency, general disinterest, and sportiness is leading to his struggles is frustrating.

    • Egelstein says:


      One of those guys is 25 and making $4.265M a year, and the other is 24 and making $2.6M a year. Would you be able to tell me which is which without seeing the names?

      Gorts is absolutely on fire today. Love both of these moves.

  4. joe K says:

    Hayes belongs at center only. Stop moving him to wing one night, the next night on a different line, an He will produce as He did his rookie year. Just put him on a line an let him play every night at that position.

    • Walt says:

      Come on Joe, your asking for too damn much of AV. His DNA dictates that he switch players, and lines every other shift, why should Hayes be any different, but I agree 100 % with you though !!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Mikeyyy says:

    Hayes needs to get leaner and meaner.

    And then he will be a super star

  6. supermaz says:

    Most everyone here knows how I feel about Hayes, I’m glad they didn’t sign him long term. The terms seem about right. Hopefully he proves me wrong over the next two seasons.

  7. Swarty says:

    Well there you go

  8. SalMerc says:

    Like a 1C? Dave, stay out of the sun.

    • Richter1994 says:

      Hayes has the talent to be one. Whether he gets there is anther issue, but the talent is there. He’s more talented than Stepan, but he’s not better than Stepan right now. Stepan has a more complete game and is disciplined. Hayes has to learn that part.

  9. Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

    Greetings Everyone!

    Well, not to get political here, but all I can say is the GOP convention was one of the most unique events I’ve ever experienced. On the night Cruz gave his speech and got booed off the stage, the acrimony wasn’t all that much different than a heated debate here on BSB….many folks are locked into their position and didn’t want to hear anything from the other person’s perspective…….facts be damned! So wanted you to know I was thinking of many of you as the Cruz and Trump factions were going at it and wondered if any of the NY delegates were hockey bloggers. 🙂

    Catching up….signed Miller, McIlrath, Kreider and Hayes. All very reasonable deals. Still loving the Mika trade. Great week for Gorton, who (along with Sather) got thoroughly out-GMed last year. Definitely redeeming himself. With cap space to play with, does that mean the Rangers have a big trade in the offing? Or do they keep their powder dry for now and see how the season plays out before making any future moves? Should be fascinating!

    On to Philly, where I hope to get into it with some obnoxious Flyers fans in my free time! 🙂

    • Ray says:

      No, I haven’t seen that acrimony here at all.

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        I’m not sure you’ve read every debate these past two seasons. 🙂

        • Ray says:

          Come on Eddie, there is a huge difference between a forum with lots of disagreement where 95% of the most heated arguments are conducted with total politeness – and all of us want the same thing in the end – and a bunch of people driven by pure hatred.

          If BSB ever started to resemble this year’s RNC, Dave would ban most of us – or even shut down the site.

    • paulronty says:

      Stay tuned Eddie for the Minny trade which I bet is still in the talking stage. Though you won’t like this, my ideal trade here is Stepan, Klein and a #3 to Minny for Coyle, Scandella, Tuch & a #2. I haven’t seen Coyle play much but what little I saw I really liked. I’ve been reading up on him & the scouting confirms what I saw. Uses his big body to protect the puck well, is always in early on the forecheck & disrupts the D in their attempts to get puck out. Good work ethic & always in the gym working hard. Also scored 20 goals or so I believe and I love that he’s really tough on the boards with a strong stick.

  10. 22 says:

    By CapFriendly’s estimation, we have about 2.5M in cap space assuming Buchnevich and Skjei make the team. That is a decent amount of unused cap space, i’m curious to see what JG does with it.

    • Ray says:

      Actually over 3 million. You also want to subtract Clendening in addition to adding B & S. That gives the Rangers 14 forwards (13+Lindberg), 7 dmen, and 2 goalies.

      And if they add a player, they can also subtract one he replaces. As you say, interesting to see if a move is made.

      • Chris A says:

        The Rangers may choose to keep that cap space available in case Buch hits some of his bonuses this season.

  11. Ray says:

    JFTR, Hrivik is still unsigned.

    And 14 forwards are gone from last year’s 50 man roster with only ten replacements. Expect to see a few more forwards signed – if only depth players.

    • paulronty says:

      There are reports that Hrivik is signed but not announced yet. Doesn’t make much sense but who knows.

  12. Richter1994 says:

    Perfect deal.

    • paulronty says:

      Not quite, about 500,000 too much but nothing to get upset about.

      • Richter1994 says:

        Paul, Hayes was 148th in the league in pts per 60 at 2 pts per 60 and that’s with a horrible 2nd half. The coach miscast him too. Kid is talented and could be a #1 C if he has his head on straight.

        • paulronty says:

          Agree, it’s just that I think his overall play didn’t merit what he got. If he plays like he can because he has the chops to do it, then he will be worth what he got.

          • Richter1994 says:

            No question the Rangers banked on potential here. But the #s don’t lie. He still had 36 pts and led the team in primary assists over the last 2 years. And that’s with a horrible 2nd half ast year.

  13. Jerry says:

    I think all of us here agree Krieder has a world of talent. I think the majority of us here think Hayes possesses a good amount of talent as well. I believe such. Now it’s up to AV to actually coach both of them correctly. That doesn’t mean coach them the same, it means use coaching techniques that they as individuals, and I’ll throw in McIlrath here as well, respond to in a positive manner. I’m personally not a fan of AV. I think I’ve made that clear. I believe his using Boyle as he did (when the inept D-man should have been watching from the press box) and the misuse of Yandle for a good portion of the season are two examples. I know there will be a few of you who will site AV’s point totals while here. And even bring up the “coveted” president’s trophy. I say who cares. All I want to see is another Stanley Cup.

    • Walt says:

      two like minds you, and I are !!!!!!!!!!

      • Jerry says:

        Yep Walt, you receive many a thumbs up from me. But, yeah there’s always a but, I respectfully feel you’re a bit to hard on Girardi. I still love ya!! LOL

        • paulronty says:

          Ya, Walt adds a lot to the site, but Jerry you are right, he is too hard on Girardi, like so many others. It’s not uncommon to see a link between deterioration in play & unreported or unknown injury. That turned out to be the case with Lindberg too.

          • Walt says:

            You both could be right, but who knew how bad his knee was. I also felt that he shouldn’t have played ahead of DMac, and took it out on him. Bottom line, if Dan has anything left in the tank we’ll see, and when I’m proven wrong I admit to it…………

  14. amy says:

    i am so happy you resigned Kevin I am looking forward to seeing you when you guys start the season and hopefully you will be in great shape