Projecting Kevin Hayes’ next contract

kevin hayes
AP Photo/Julio Cortez

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.

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  • As usual, great piece Dave.

    I’m not an AV fan, not by any stretch of the imagination, but I will give him credit for his utilization af Hayes. Hayes has shown me plenty, and worthy of a contract in the $4.5M range.

    I doubt that all three of Hayes, Spooner and Namestnikov will be Rangers next season. The one I’d like to see stay in Ranger ‘blue’ is Hayes. If one or both of Namestnikov and Spooner are traded, it will just continue to show what an excellent job Gorton is doing with his re-build, as he continues to accumulate young assets and picks.

    • AV had no choice in the matter; Stepan was getting curb stomped in that two way, playing against the top line role.

      • I’ll add that he curb stomped on the PK the year before he got traded. The team was ranked 22nd or 23rd at the time and was got swallowed up by any divisional rivals.

        • God forbid somebody watches the games and knows how to dig into advanced stats(or even basic ones) too make sure stats & eye test match up.

  • Hayes is indeed a nice player to keep. I feel we need to get him under the $5M per mark over 4 years. He can play both ends of the ice and can finally understand that shooting the puck is not a bad thing. One of the 3 has to go, hopefully to get us a move up in the 2nd round.

    Our team is full of the nice, middle 6 players. We need another line that can dominate. Maybe put a sniper on with Hayes and he gets 40 assists.

  • Hayes should get somewhere between $4-5 mil, at five years, with the contract starting at $4.5, and getting a $100K raise per year. This would put him in the Kreider range, although Hayes does a little more, like PK.

    Let’s face it, I like Hayes, but there are others who can fill his shoes, unlike the last two seasons, we are deep at the center position!!!!!!!!!

  • Lets say we keep Hayes, which of the other 2 would bring more back in a trade?

    Namestnikov who put up big numbers this year playing with top level talent, or Spooner who when traded to a less talented team(us) put up solid numbers in the short time he has been here. (tailing off now though).

  • we should keep Kevin he has played well as for his contract give him between 4-5 million at 5 yrs and put him with good guys

  • Big mistake to make Hayes the odd man out. This year his 2-way game has put him in a potential 2c spot going forward. Spooner is not what many think he is. He’s soft and 1-dimensional. He needs to go (considering the logjam) and if Gorton can get something for what was essentially a throw in to the Nash deal then so much the better. The Nash deal: the gift that keeps on giving (assuming Lindgren is what I think he is).

    I am not bashing Spooner but here in Boston he was very much disliked by a fan base that knows its hockey. Perimeter player who will put up some points but that’s about it.

    Bottom Line: Hayes is not going anywhere. Spooner should though. I am not overly thrilled about Miller for Namestnikov, but willing to give it some time.

    • Agreed. Hayes is quite a talented player and I don’t believe him to be as easily replaced as some others.

      The part of the Tampa trade that really bugs me is Miller being sent there. He is a much better player than Namestnikov in my opinion. The only thing that might explain his inclusion that makes sense to me would be that they possibly felt that they were going to have trouble signing him and wanted to get something for him before he left.

      • “The only thing that might explain his inclusion that makes sense to me would be that they possibly felt that they were going to have trouble signing him and wanted to get something for him before he left.”

        There is another possibility. We tend to think of Namestnikov for Miller as an even swap, but maybe that isn’t so. Given his start here, it would not surprise if TB was disenchanted with Namestnikov and insisted on the forward swap as a condition for making the deal. And maybe, jidt maybe, all parties knew JT was the better player.

        • JG basically admitted that the team picked Hayes last year over JT and that they been quietly shopping. I couldn’t tell what the outcome would have been if they didn’t blow up the roster but JT was going to get traded to whoever. Tampa said they been calling about him…

      • The way I see it is Hayes getting that 5 mill range in his next contract.

        He’s the leagues best 3c… He’s a PK specialist at this point and his agent will have alot to ride on. When your one of the best at coming off the bench or being a 3c than you should get to run your own floor or at least be in the top 6. He could go get that role and probably more money else where. That’s why I think that he’ll get 5 mill in his extension and a for sure 2c role.

        We’ll be lucky to see the next shutdown player post up 35 points in a 3c role. They would have to also put up some serious PK points to set a franchise record because that’s still all on Hayes.

    • Miller for ANYBODY will continue to haunt especially as I watch him skate on their top line and top PP line. I will continue to watch my favorite former Ranger do great things on a team that I’m a bit bitter about. However, I too will keep pulling for a productive Vladislav. He plays hard, is quick, intelligent and looks to be competitive enough to be a very productive Ranger moving forward

      • Alaskanfree…..well said………13 points in 13 games, 7 goals……….you should post more often……..Miller was one of my favorites also……..
        I fear we are looking at another middleton/ ridley long term disaster trade……..
        IN fact I see that ERIC STALL just netted his 40th goal of the season…..another MAJOR BLUNDER by this current rangers management…….Future HOF, we let go for nothing!!!!!
        Just look at the talent we ”’Gave away”’ recently……stall, miller, grabner, nash , strallman, mcdonagh………and what do we have to show for all this????????? Middle 6 prospects!!!!!!

        • Dude Miller punched out his time clock the minute he lost his center position to a NCAA free agent in the summer of 2014. It sounded like they were all well aware of his growth but had their minds made up between him and Hayes. Warning signs of Drury getting Hayes to play on team USA with his buddy Johnny hockey as a top line. I tried to war many on here so you all wouldn’t get shell shocked about it.

        • … and what do we have to show for all this?

          Are you kidding me??? We got 2 1st round picks, maybe 3 — a 2nd rounder and a few real good prospects (Lindgren, Rykov, Howden and Hajek) … PLUS we got Namestnikov and Spooner, who can either be kept or flipped for more draft picks/prospects.

          Re: Stralman, not exactly “recently” at this point. Gee, why don’t you go back even further to strengthen your argument that this management group sucks … you know, the same group that made us one of the top 4 or 5 teams in the league for almost a decade.

          Re: Staal, aside from his misuse by AV (yes AV, this isn’t on the rest of the management group) looked totally disinterested in being here — and that was the way he played, like crap.

          • He was also a #1 center which we lacked but was put on 3rd line wing , go figure. JT was AV’s whipping boy , still a solid winger who can grind and showed some grit which we lack!

          • Tanto,
            Do you think any of our late 1st round picks will get us an ”’elite”’ center like eric stall??? With his skill set he should be playing into his late 30″s.
            Do you think any of our late first round draft picks will net us a player the caliber of a McDonagh or a strallman??? Both top 20 defense men……
            Do you think any of our late first round picks will get us a player who consistently scores 25+ goals , game changing speed , like grabner?
            OR a player built like miller who hits a ton and looks to be a 25+ goal scorer the next 10 years?????
            Top 2 or 3 first round picks are worth the trades but DEFINITELY not late first rounders!!!!!!
            And I failed to mention getting hosed on the St Louis trade …..2 first round picks and callahan ……..
            This franchise goes nowhere until the 3 stooges are gone!!!!!!! This coming from a rangers fan for 50 years!!!!!

          • Oh wait, you’re serious?! McD was a 12th pick, Miller was a 15th pick and Stralman was a 7th rounder (all in drafts much much weaker than this one) … Staal stunk up MSG, were you clamoring for them to sign him to a multi-year contract back then? Not to mention you’re conveniently forgetting all the prospects we got in trade. You’re also forgetting that all the players you’re talking about are or will be very soon declining — aside from Miller (who has always been pretty inconsistent).

            Please, start thinking with the rational side of your brain for a moment and try to avoid these over the top hyperbolic rants. I guess the last 12-13 years don’t count for anything in your book. Ugh, if I wasn’t such a positive person I might think you a total ingrate. 😉

          • The picks we got from boston and tampa will probably be the 29 th and 30 th picks …….
            Trust me there will be no eric stall, , mcdonagh, miller, grabner, strallman available for us at those slots!!!!!!
            Eric Stall got hurt as soon as he got here and as usual was misused by AV on top of that…..but he was an elite player and NEEDED to be resigned!!!!!!! Stall, like thornton will be putting up numbers probably another 5 years…….
            Miller inconsistant 3 rd year in a row with 20+ goals…….we need more inconsistent players like that>>>>>> He will excell away from AV !!!!
            I am frustrated by the past 20 years of sather , 20 years of NOT having a plan…….
            and getting hosed by Yzerman on every trade…….
            1 Cup the last 75 years doesnt get it done for me, not with all the resources rangers have……

          • You don’t have a clue what will be available to us with those picks. I’m sure no one thought there was a Stralman available in the 7th round of that year’s draft. You can find elite or close to elite players in every round of a draft, it’s just the odds diminish greatly with each successive round.

          • Rich, just last Summer Tolvanen and Kostin were taken with the final 2 picks of the 1st round by Nashville and St. Louis, respectively. Tolvanen is now universally seen as one of the best prospects in hockey (you’ll see him in the playoffs for Nashville), and Kostin has a ton of potential (St. Louis is very happy with that trade/grab). My best friend is a Penguins fan (sadly) and still curses at trading that 31st pick that turned into Kostin.

            This year there are some very good players who can fall to our late picks (by the way, we won’t have both the 29th and 30th picks from these trades as these teams would face each other in the 2nd round if they win their 1st round match-ups because of this stupid playoff system; so it’s more likely 25th-27th and 30th/31st picks).

            K’Andre Miller has looked really good as of late (was dominant at 5 Nations) and could easily be a key cog of the future. He could very well be available with the last pick of the 1st round. There’s also a chance Akil Thomas or even a wildcard like Ryan Merkley (a huge red flag risk) could be there at that 25th-27th spot. Akil Thomas has insane potential but will need some development (might go a bit earlier, like around 21-23, but we could probably move our 25th-27th pick up to grab him, we have the pieces to do that) while Merkley’s offensive skills from the blue line are supreme (his attitude and defense are the question marks). Even a Bokk, Olofsson, and especially a player like Jonny Tychonick could be there (somehow Tychonick could fall into the 2nd round). I love this draft, there are going to be some really nice prospects in the 2nd round as well, these were great pieces we acquired.

            J.T. was one of my favorites and I hated seeing him go, but Howden, Hajek, and that 1st rounder (and 2nd rounder next year; another loaded draft class; that can become a 1st) are big, and Namestnikov could be a nice piece to keep (or trade, that’s the beauty of that). I don’t understand the misguided Gorton hate I’ve been seeing, he’s a really smart GM, he just needs the gum chewer (needs to be fired for any real hope) and cigar smoke (wish he’d retire) to get out of his way.

  • Hayes is slow, passive, and in general he’s a slightly above average player. But his size, passing skill, and ability to play in all situations are all big pluses. Depending on the coach and system that will replace Vigneault, he could stay or go. My biggest fear with Hayes is that he will become unmotivated and complacent with a longterm contract. I think NYR should keep whoever out of Hayes, Namestnikov, and Spooner will sign for the shortest term and least $$. Wheel & deal on whichever player looks to cost too much $$ and term.

    • That won’t get your boy Stepan back in Ranger blue again, let that sink in some more…

      Hayes pretty much runs that summer work out camp in Boston and seeing the real owner of that place talk about how Hayes is his top and most determined athlete tells me he’s a serious off season work out nut.

      • Yep, nothing better than overpaying for a third-line center. Except overpaying for an alleged “shutdown” center who’s been on a Ranger team that’s been bottom 5 for the last 2 years in shots against, high-danger chances, and overall possession numbers. Hayes has been better this year, and his 5-on-5 production has been undeniably good—but to call him a successful shutdown center on an abysmal defensive team is kind of a stretch.

        As I said above, he’s got great skills—but he’s lacking the wheels of Namestnikov or Spooner. If the next coaching regime is emphasizing speed, Hayes is the likely odd man out. And who the hell wants Stepan back? I sure don’t, I’m excited to have Andersson instead. I will, however, take this moment to remind you that Stepan is now and always has been a better hockey player than Kevin Hayes. But NMC longterm contracts cannot be allowed anymore by this team, so good riddance. Stepan can collect his $$$$ on a garbage team for all I care b

        • You can keep on writing that Hayes can’t skate, but that doesn’t make it true.

          This isn’t rookie Hayes, his skating is slightly above average now, even his 1st step.

          • And you can keep writing that Hayes is a good skater. He’s not—he’s average at best. Where the guy has massive skill is in his vision and his hands. Let’s give credit where credit is due.

          • MC
            Agree with your analysis of hayes……slow, great hands and vision…….and i wouldn’t overpay him, but do understand that guys like thornton and eric stall have similar qualities [ size , lack of speed, hands , vision] and have been ultra successful……even into late 30’s…….
            He fit in better when he had two speedy wingers….jt miller and grabner……..NOW????????/

          • And also, between Namestnikov, Spooner, and Hayes there’s no question that Hayes is the slowest of the three. Unless of course you’ve spotted another injury somewhere, undetected by NYR med staff and the players themselves?

      • The gym owner who is getting paid by Hayes and the players he brings in says he is the most determined athlete so that is why NYR should sign him for $5M per. Wha??
        Haze is a 2B-/3C+ pivot who thinks he is the Great One but only plays as tough. Don’t even think he is a top 6 pivot with his slow skating and refusal to play hard on the wall.
        Sign him for as short as possible and let him walk after when pups are ready.

    • 3 months ago I would say he’s 50/50 to be traded. But here’s the fact of the last month or so:

      Kevin… has… found… his… game…

      So he will be here next year, but not necessarily at center. He may shift to wing depending on who is on the team next year.

      He’s SHOOTING the puck and scoring. Shocker. Not.

  • Great write up. The thing i like most about Hayes is his game keeps evolving and for the better. His point totals may not have been as expected this season, but since just before the trade deadline he has really turned it on all around.
    Remember this kid was winning face offs at 36% his first 2 seasons? He’s now winning close to 50% of his face offs. He had a bit of a slow start but he’s scored 21 goals and missed 6 games. He was transitioned to a #2 C with a focus on Defense. He had an adjustment but he seems to be embracing that role. His special teams also seem more special lately. He’s become a complete player who’s entering his prime and he’s shown maturity in each season. I would keep him around. 4-5 years around $4.5 is fine, but NO NMC or MTC please.

  • Hayes and Namestnikov stay….Spooner gets traded is my feeling

    Hayes 4.5 mil x 4 years
    Namestnikov 4 mil x 3 years

  • Rangers will have $25-28mm in cap room going into next season.

    You can re-sign everybody and let it shake out through the start of the season and still have plenty of cap space to be flexible. You front load the contracts so on the back end they have greater trade value(which would be wasted if AV were to remain.)

    • Reenavipul

      agreed…..front load the contracts….had we done that with Lundqvist….his contract wouldn’t be awful….his contract has to go off the books in my opinion…if he was getting 4.5 after hefty paychecks in the beginning I would wouldn’t have such a drastic opinion on him

      • Front loaded contract with NMC defeats the purpose and if you have to buy him out, cap recapture kills you.

  • In today’s NHL as so many of you point to, you don’t need a high priced goalie

    2 good goalies will do the trick

    • You beat me to the punch leather………I have been saying this for 50 years……goalies dont win cups……forwards and centers do!!!!!!!
      We need to convince hank to take a 80 % pay cut maybe with promise of future job with organization or CUT him………then next year or soon after when Shortsky is ready trade him or gorgiev or pavelic …..dont need 3 quality goalies……..
      Did you notice that eric stall has 40 goals already? Miller lighting it up with the lightening? We wont get better until we get an Yzerman type Gm……

      • Rich

        CBA doesn’t permit any team to cut pay on an existing contract, so there you go!!!

        Please quit the argument about losing Nash, Grabner, they were UFA, so any return is wonderful.

        Miller was due for a new contract, and maybe he let it be known, and or management let it be known that they weren’t going to resign the guy. These are hollow arguments, but your other points about E Staal, Yandle, MSL, Strlaman are worth fighting about!

  • watching Hayes closely one comes to understand Hayes has to change the dynamics of his game. He has made too many blind passes and poor decisions with and without the puck. He needs to get more grit to his game while seeing the ice better. For a big skater he need to utilize his size better. Addressing these issues maybe you have a tier1/2 player.

    • Why does everyone think Hayes needs to change his game?

      Not every 6 foot 4 skater is Eric Lindros. Some guys are great at using their big body and long limbs to simply create time and space to make plays. That’s what Kevin Hayes does so well. He’s able to slow the game down and, if his teammates are driving the net, he will find them.

    • +1
      The effective top 6 2 way center talk does not mesh with reality. He is the ultimate AV player; soft and pass happy with limited lateral movement.

  • As usual a wannabe hack writer with no fact check.

    “Hayes is currently the most expensive of the three, finishing up his second contract which paid him $2.6 million”

    I guess Hayes’ $2.6M AAV is more than Spooner’s $2.825M AAV.

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