We keep talking about how the Rangers are poised to make an array of moves to shake up both the roster and the organisation as a whole, but aside from signing Pavel Buchnevich (hurrah!) the team have been silent thus far. That may be because they aren’t done assessing the current situation yet; time will tell.
The Rangers are obviously going to need to reshape their defense – if they can – but perhaps the biggest decision they may have to make may be which center they have to deal. The Rangers don’t just need to shift cap space but they need to acquire assets and the Rangers best chance of a quality return – without negatively impacting any one specific position – may be moving one of their centers. It’s the position where the Rangers are deepest.
We’ve discussed moving Kevin Hayes before and more recently Derick Brassard and we’ve all heard of the rumours of Derek Stepan to the Wild. When facing the facts though, the guy to be moved should be Kevin Hayes.
Hayes isn’t as valuable to the Rangers as Stepan or Brassard, and facing up to the reality that Steven Stamkos is too pricy for the Rangers, then trading Hayes hurts the Rangers center depth the least when you factor in they cannot (realistically) replace either of the top six centers. Can the Rangers find a new third line center? It’s easier to do than find a top six center for sure.
Hayes may not bring the cap relief that moving Stepan or Brassard would bring but a good, big and young center with some cost control to the acquiring team would surely bring a solid return; either in prospects or draft picks – maybe even a roster player in return . Factor in that Hayes hasn’t quite established himself as a top six player or even in a definitive position and you have the makings of a moveable asset.
Losing Hayes would hurt and moving on from him after two years may influence other college free agents (Jimmy Vesey?) when they decide where to start their pro careers. However, if the Rangers want to limit the impact any moves have on the current roster and its subsequent ability to contend, then Hayes is arguably the most attractive, asset producing and (keyword) expendable player the Rangers have available to them.
The Rangers biggest decision this summer might not center around Dan Girardi or Marc Staal but it may be around which center needs to be moved to help bring positive change. That center should be Kevin Hayes.