The Blueshirts have a ton of questions to address this offseason. From the blue line to the coach to the forwards, not one stone will be left unturned in this process. It’s the first time in a long time that we will be glued to social media for most of the offseason.
One item of particular is the decision process around Ryan Spooner, Vlad Namestnikov, and Kevin Hayes. All three are comparable players, and all three are pending RFAs. While a trade is certainly possible, there is also room for all three next year. So let’s look at what Hayes, the longest tenured of the trio, might cost next season.
Hayes is currently the most expensive of the three, finishing up his second contract which paid him $2.6 million for two seasons. The good thing here is that his cap hit matched his actual salary, so we can use that number and not a higher salary as our start. Per the CBA, Hayes is guaranteed at least that amount.
He will get a raise though, especially since he has arbitration rights. To find comparable contracts, we are looking at players who are signing their third deal as RFAs at 26 years old (Hayes turns 26 in May), with arbitration rights, as a 40-50 point player.
Brayden Schenn, now in St. Louis, is an interesting potential comparable contract. Currently in the second year of his four-year, $5.125 million contract, Schenn has similar output to Hayes, but is again on the higher end of that spectrum at 59 points in his contract year. Schenn was turning 26 when he signed that deal, coming off a two-year, $2.75 million second contract. The financials and age match, but the production is about ten points off. He’s still on the high end of the spectrum, but certainly lower than Granlund.
Craig Smith in Nashville might be right on the money for a comparable, though. He is in the third year of his five year deal making $4.25 million. This is his third contract, signed at 26 years old, after putting up no higher than 52 points in any previous season. The only difference is that his second contract was a two-year deal at a $2 million cap hit. He’s a little on the lower end because of that, but he might be the closest thing we get to a true comparable contract.
Interestingly enough, Hayes’ deal might be tied closely to whatever Brock Nelson gets from the Islanders. Both are in near identical situations. So if you’re looking for a deal that will likely impact Hayes, look at Nelson.
If I were to make a guess, which is basically what I do at the end of all these posts, I would put Hayes at 4-5 years at around $4.5 million. I think he gets more than Smith because he is 1) signing his contract at a later date with a higher cap hit, and 2) had a higher cap hit on his second contract. I don’t think he hits the $5 million mark just yet, but I can see him getting $4.75 million on the high end. The Rangers have the space for him and the other raises due, but it remains to be seen if he is a part of the future they are envisioning.