Kevin Hayes, rookie monster: Musing the Rangers

Who else wants to bask in the glory of the Rangers ripping off a bunch of wins against the league’s best? For once, the Rangers aren’t playing and as it’s Thursday let’s muse.

Kevin Hayes – rookie beast extraordinaire. Hayes has literally grown up right in front of our eyes. His patience on the puck is remarkable for a rookie; his strength on the puck undeniable and his decision making has improved immeasurably.

What’s not discussed much is the impact of the college ‘rookie wall’. Hayes has surely (barring a sudden, out of nowhere loss of form) put to bed this theory for the time being. He is literally playing his best hockey as a pro right now and is seemingly getting better every game.

At times, Hayes’ line with Hagelin and Miller has actually carried the Rangers in recent weeks and given that this is a Cup contending roster that’s one hell of a compliment. With a bit of luck Hayes could reach 40 points in his rookie year and given that he’s played out of his natural position, on a depth line, that’s very impressive.

Things that bode well: Ryan McDonagh’s steady return to form, Jesper Fast’s continued development and Dan Girardi’s recent solid play.

Carl Hagelin Love fest. I love everything that Carl Hagelin brings to the Rangers. He’s almost the perfect depth player. He chips in offensively, has speed to burn, is a great team guy who always works hard and is a strong penalty killer. He has been on fire for several weeks now and his performances have been at a very high level for the most part. He must be kept. IF it comes down to a straight choice of either one more year of Marty St Louis or several more years of Hagelin there should only be one choice: Hagelin.

Things that don’t bode well: The long spells when Marty St Louis goes MIA, the top line struggling to score (even though they are playing well) and that Alain Vigneault thinks James Sheppard isn’t an obvious upgrade on Tanner Glass.

While we’re gushing about the third line (or is it the second line?) let’s give some love to JT Miller. Miller is clearly getting the message. He’s still got a way to go but he’s playing good, hard hockey and has come on considerably in recent weeks. Does that mean AV’s ‘tough love’ was justified?

Derek Stepan – your offense is needed, please return the real Derek Stepan to Madison Square Garden ASAP.

The most impressive part of the Rangers recent shutdown defense? The Rangers have generally been keeping shooters to the outside and have let Talbot see most of the shots he’s faced. More often than not the defense in front of him has given Talbot a chance to make the first save and when there’s a rebound they’ve dealt with most of them. While Islanders rookie Anders Lee was able to get to the net for his goal far too easily that’s been the exception rather than the norm.

With Kevin Klein getting hurt against the Capitals and Matt Hunwick likely having to play this weekend it made me think; will the Rangers bring Hunwick back as the seventh defenseman next year? Hunwick has been serviceable and earlier in the season, at times he was a pleasant surprise. In spurts, he’s a solid seventh blueliner.

Question Time:

  • Whose slump scares you most: Derek Stepan or Marty St Louis?
  • Considering his up and down year, what are your revised expectations for a new Stepan deal?
  • Will Henrik Lundqvist continue his streak of 30 win seasons? (full seasons only)
  • If there was one thing missing from this roster, what is it?
  • What would you want in return, to trade Cam Talbot this summer?


Show More
  • 1) Marty’s slump scares me the most I think he is anchoring stepan a bit and would like to see how swapping him with Hagelin would work.
    2) I hope Stepan’s deal can be similar to Brass’ but knowing his previous history I’d still be willing to go over 5 even 6 mil on a 5-6 year deal. He’s still a very good player.
    3) I think Hank will come close and get at least 28 but 30 is possible, I just dont know if he would be able to, obviously it depends on when he is coming back.
    4) Right-handed bomb from the point on the powerplay.
    5) If we can get good picks or prospects for Cam I would consider it, he will get traded but we need a back up for next year and there isnt much on the market this FA. But once again, if lets sat EDM or SJ offers us their 2nd and maybe a little more (history shows that’s unlikely as goalies rarely garner much) I’d be happy. Or maybe something similar to the Halak to STL trade. Any goalie trade that gets you back a good young player that helps the team is a good trade even if that said goalie makes a huge splash.

    • Rangers do not easily admit that their aging acquisitions were/are ineffective. Recall how Brad Richards hurt the team before they found the spine to bench him. MSL is not in a slump. MSL is an old [hockey] man. His slump is permanent. In 19 games with the Rangers last year, he scored 3 goals. Adrenaline made him effective in the playoffs, but, except for a couple of months this season, he has reverted to old man form. For MSL, this year’s playoff will bring two possibilities: a brief playoff revival, or, ineffectiveness that will be so damaging and transparent that benching, a la Brad Richards, will become unavoidable.

  • 1. Derek Stepan – He is young. MSL is old. Step is center. MSL is a wing. The Rangers need Step to be Step more then they need MSL to be a lesser version of his former self.

    2. Same. I don’t think he’s worth 5.5 mil, but the Rangers have to sign him whatever the cost because there aren’t any other options.

    3. I don’t know.

    4. A true #1 center or physical winger aka the type of player that has no spot on this team unless his name is Tanner Glass.

    5. I wouldn’t deal Talbot until the deadline at the earliest and only if the Rangers had a legit backup goaltender to replace him. In that case I’d hope they could package him up with some other parts for a legit #1 center or obtain the aforementioned physical winger that AV would bench in favor of using Tanner Glass or whoever buys the info that Tanner Glass is blackmailing AV with. 😀

  • In regards to Talbot, he is a goalie that should fetch us a number 1 pick, a prospect and a player or another high pick. He by himself would have given the Oilers 6 more wins this season. I am just using the Oilers as an example. He is that good. In my opinion Talbot is better than quite a few starters out there. A Schneider type of a return and some.

      • Your opinion seems to prevail here, but I think you are wrong. When you don’t want to trade someone because his value is too low, maybe you have his value wrong.

        I say get two #1’s (or very close) or keep him. That isn’t so very much. Look at the Ranger #1’s under Sather. Pick two typical choices. I’d guess one would be say JT Miller and the other would be a dud. Yes, there was Staal and Kreider, but two top choices in fifteen years does not suggest what you end up with.

        • But Schneider only netted one first round pick (#9 overall). Talbot is not equal to Schneider, he’s close but certainly not equal.

          • I can’t see him getting a 1 this season. Not even a little bit. Even teams desperate for a goalie aren’t giving up a top 10 this season.

            Those same teams may be willing to part with this year’s 2nd and next year’s 1 for Talbot now and the chance to resign him long term.

      • He can’t get it this year, but he could net next year’s 1st rounder from a lot of teams. Assuming someone is looking for a guy. No one will be moving a first this season, especially not anyone who has spent a season tanking.

        Goalies are a difficult thing to move even if they are established and they are a huge chance if they aren’t established. Talbot may have done enough over 2 seasons now and this stretch to get someone to bite (even though this was the example it’s probably most likely Edmonton). Talbot could be moved at the draft, but most likely won’t net much this season in the draft. This draft is far too strong and no one who tanked for half a season is moving a top 10 pick for Talbot. So really Talbot’s value in this draft starts in the 2nd round this year. He could probably get a 1st rounder with that for the following season.

        Here’s hoping that the Rangers can 1st win the cup. Then look to the draft and start a retool and resigning situation. I hate to say it because it does suck to bring up moving a warrior and a true Ranger out, but Girardi and Talbot being moved to Edmonton would make a lot of sense for both teams. Rangers can add skill, youth, and picks back to the system. Edm gets a goalie, and a veteran D man that is actually a top 4 guy who isn’t just being paid like one.

        Of course the only way it happens is if the Rangers win the Cup, or Girardi just has a disastrous playoffs.

  • – Neither slump scares me. Stepan is fine. Marty is making his linemates look impotent. Watch MSL closely, he’s a turnover machine. AV has made the adjustment and quietly made the Stepan line the third line.

    – I still say Stepan gets $10M over 2 years or $41M over 7 years. Let’s not forget that Stepan has posted 43 points in 52 games, at that rate he easily ranks in the top 50 in the NHL for points and is very close to the top 25.

    – Considering Hank’s already at 25 wins, he better get to 30 otherwise the Rangers have a problem.

    – An 8th D. That’s about it. After Hunwick it’s one of Kostka, Allen, McIlrath or Bodie. Not an ideal situation.

    – I don’t think a reasonable return exists in a trade involving Cam. His value is tied to the fact that he is an extremely reliable backup that has a relatively small cap hit. No B- prospect or #50 pick in the draft comes close to matching Cam’s present value next season. To get a goalie as good as Cam to back up Hank next year would cost way more than what Cam commands.

  • The eye test shows MSL to be the worse culprit. He really can’t hold on to the puck and is a detriment to any momentum that line is able to drum up in most cases. His decline has been a real bummer and I am hopeful he regains his form in the post season. That said, it is more important for Stepan to up his game and pick up the slack.

    Unfortunately I don’t see it decreasing his value too much. As mentioned above he has the leverage due to our lack of options. He is still looking at a $25 mil + contract.

    16 games left on the season and he needs 5 Ws. I think he gets there. Assuming he is able to go between the weekend of the 21st and 28th, from the 28th forward we still have 9 games on the schedule, 2 of which are back to back. If those are split he will get 7 starts. Conservative estimates on my part. I say he gets it done and hits 30.

    Nothing blatant, but everyone could use an upgrade or two. Mainly an insurance policy in the case of an injury. See Mr. Klein.

    Someone pointed out yesterday (Spozo maybe) that Cory Schneider was traded to NJ a few years back in exchange for the 8th (? I think) overall pick which turned into Bo Horvat. Schneider was more established, had better pedigree and therefore fetched more than Talbot will be able to. I would support a trade for 2 reasons- 1) get a good prospect or a top 45 pick back into the organization 2) free up some cap space. Every bit counts and we will be strapped. He’s been the man, but if we could accomplish 1 and 2 above and Cam finds a team that could give him 30+ starts, I would happily root for him and move on. As taken from an article this morning, it would be good roster management.

    • You know, Talbot’s numbers look pretty similar to Schnieder’s last two years in Vancouver. Schneider started 58 games his last two years in Vancouver, Cam has started 45 as a Ranger. SV% and GAA are fairly close over that time and Schneider was 25 and 26 years old those two years, Cam is 27 right now.

      Still, Talbot lacks pedigree, which means something when you are trying to convince a GM to make a trade that could cost him his job.

      If Cam keeps this up through next year, the Schneider comparison starts to look better and better. The more good games Cam has in the NHL the less that lack of pedigree will mean.

      I take back what I said earlier about a Cam trade not being worth it. If the Rangers can turn Cam into a top 20 pick at some point next season, I might have to consider it. I doubt he will have that kind of value this summer though.

      • To get anywhere near Schneider value I think he’s got to go this offseason. The teams most likely in need of a goaltender will already be out of the playoffs by the deadline and won’t move a 1st (in the top 10) for a guy they need to resign to a huge pay day a few months from then and might not resign. They would probably just take their chances that they can get him for nothing in July.

        Schneider was dealt with a year left on his deal if I remember correctly and NJ had to resign him after a full season under his Van deal. Unless a starter goes down in camp to a team that thinks of itself as a contender his highest value will be this offseason at the draft or just after the start of free agency (if a team missed out on signing someone).

  • Isles just inked Boychuk for 7/42. The Marc Staal deal starts to look better now – 3 years younger, one year shorter, 300K less per.

      • I was just doing some research on Boychuk. Turns out he’s the same age as a certain Wade Redden was when the Rangers signed him long term.

        I know Boychuk is more physical than Redden was, but who’s to say they don’t decline the same way?

        This is just some food for thought you guys might want to share with your Isles fan friends. They all seem a little too giddy about Boychuk’s deal, a little reality check can’t be a bad thing for them.

  • Whose slump scares you most: Derek Stepan or Marty St Louis?

    Stepan’s, and it could just be a by product of St Louis’s slump, but it makes me wonder if he’ll ever be a 70+ pt Center, or just one who shows flashes of it. Thankfully he does other things (PK, Defensively sound) to make up for it. St Louis doesn’t scare me because he’s 38, I accepted that it was going to happen at some point.

    Considering his up and down year, what are your revised expectations for a new Stepan deal?

    Coming into the season, I was thinking he’d get 5 yrs/$30 Mill. Now i’m thinking give him 2yrs/$10 Mil, or if you go 5 years, keep the AAV below $6M per.

    Will Henrik Lundqvist continue his streak of 30 win seasons? (full seasons only)


    If there was one thing missing from this roster, what is it?

    A consistent center who can win Offensive Zone Face Offs.

    What would you want in return, to trade Cam Talbot this summer?

    Young Center on an ELC or a 2nd round + conditional later round pick.

    • Stepan is on pace for a 68 point season. He had even better numbers in the lockout shortened season, 44 points in 48 games.

      Stepan is 100% a second tier first line NHL center. He’s not a superstar like Crosby, Toews or Tavares but he’s certainly on par with (and younger than) guys like Kopitar and Bergeron.

      • Right On Chris! Derek Stepan is so much better of a complete Hockey player then many give him credit for! I really wish more people could see that. Also, I believe that he’s only going to get better over the years., and am.pretty confident in saying that. Remember guys, He’s still a kid!
        I’ll say it again, I believe that when these kids excel at the WJC and (Step took over when they one it all), they eventually tend to get to that level in the big leagues….eventually.

        Like you had mentioned the other day Chris, that Step does hustle his ass back but is just a lil too slow. Who knows, can yoy imagine if that improves over time? He’d even be more pf a hell of a player.

  • 1-Stephan’s streak scares me the most. I think MSL has contributed to Stephan’s decline.

    2-Stephan has not earned the real big bucks I thought he’d get. That said he should be signed. Period. Our pipeline is nor exactly full of strong centermen. Regardless he brings enough to the table to warrant a decent contract.

    3- All he needs is 5 additional wins. I would think he will at least reach that number.

    4-Size with a touch of nasty. Be it on D or a forward position. Is there another Tom Wilson out there?

    5-I’d like to see his stay. But if it’s clear we can’t keep him due to cap restraints, I love draft picks.

  • I believe that Stepan’s current problems are MSL, which is showing major signs of age, and it has affected his play big time.

    He should be signed for about the same as Brass, who I believe is a better true center, but falls short because he isn’t on the PK.

    Depending when Hank returns, and isn’t affected by the long lay off, he should get his 30 again this year. Look, the way the team is playing, he will get all the necessary support to reach that 30 win plateau..

    A skilled wing with an edge. Someone mentioned Bickell from the Hawks, now that is a player!!!!!!!!

    Cam deserves to stay, but the cost will be too high, so he’ll be traded at the deadline next year. I believe he can get us a very nice return, maybe like Miller did for Buffalo. Try to get a true 1st line center that can skate like Brass, or Hags..

    Is there any doubt that Hags will be re-signed???? Hell no, the kid is too valuable to let go, or trade. Skating with Hayes, and Miller, they are a dynamic trio!!!!!!

  • Just heard Klein has a broken arm, expected to miss the rest of the season. Hope Hunwick can get in the zone.

  • God that sucks. I feel bad for the guy…and the team. He was having a career year. Shame he’ll end it early.

  • Not out for the season. 3-4 weeks. Should be back hopefully for the last few games of the regular season and the playoffs.

    Hagelin is tremendous. A must to re-sign.

    I like Stepan and would like to see him stay, but a lot depends on him. He was a holdout a few years back and seems to have “Callahan Syndrome”–an over-inflated sense of his value. Resigning him will depend on whether he wants to chase every last dollar like our aforementioned former captain, or take a reasonable deal like Zuc did.

    I’d trade Talbot after the season while his value is still high IF and only IF I was overwhelmed. Otherwise, I’d hold on to him. Hank isn’t getting any younger, chances of injury always increase as one ages, and having Cam as a backup is a luxury few teams have. Hanging on to him into next season also could be beneficial if a contending team were to lose their goalie, then make a trade with the Rangers out of desperation.

    I would not, under any circumstance, re-sign MSL. He has served his purpose. A trip to the SC Finals and hopefully another this year. Here’s your ring….thanks for the memories….now time to free up some cap space!

  • Back to top button