It’s a slow summer in hockey. There aren’t many questions coming into the mailbag, so I held on to a few to have enough for a post. As always, use the widget on the right to send us questions.
Scott asks: What do you make of Brendan Smith this year?
This is a very loaded question. Smith is reportedly in tremendous shape this summer, knowing he needs this year to revive his NHL career. He also knows that he has stiff competition from the youngsters trying to crack the roster. He also knows that the Rangers have no qualms sending him to the AHL. That’s the trifecta right there. I expect him to have a bounce back year. But I also don’t expect him to finish that contract in New York.
Darren asks: You don’t see that Kevin Hayes deal as a bridge to a new deal in January? Why do you think he’s a sure-fire goner?
Darren is probably referencing my post over the weekend, where I looked at places Hayes might land in a trade. I didn’t really go into a scenario that the Rangers extend him after January 1, which is a legitimate possibility. The Rangers did something like this with Mats Zuccarello in 2014-2015, inking him to a one-year, $3.5 million deal before signing him to his current four year deal at $4.5 million a year. The Rangers needed the cap space, so Zucc took a team friendly deal with the assurance he would be extended.
There are many reasons why the Hayes situation is different. First and foremost, the Rangers don’t need the cap space. There was no need for them to come to a Zuccarello bridge. Second, and almost as important as the first, is Zuccarello took less than market value on his one-year deal. Hayes got what we expected him to get. There are also reports that Hayes didn’t want a multi-year deal, or at least didn’t want the multi-year deal the Rangers were offering.
When you put all three of these together, you get the one-year bridge and a trade chip. He’s not expensive, and he doesn’t come with a long-term commitment, which makes him trade bait. If he logs the big minutes and PP time under David Quinn that we are expecting, he should see a boost in his trade value.
Adam asks: Why in the world is Lindy Ruff still here?
Maybe coaches need a veteran presence in the locker room too? I don’t know.
Multiple emails: What happened to the RSS feed?
I’m looking into it. For some reason it stopped. I didn’t change anything on my end."Mailbag: Brendan Smith, Kevin Hayes, Lindy Ruff",