Thoughts following the Kevin Hayes contract

kevin hayes
AP Photo/Julio Cortez

In case you missed it, the Rangers re-signed center Kevin Hayes to a one-year deal at $5.125 million. The deal will bring him directly to his first UFA season at age 27. As per usual, there are some thoughts.

1. I am both surprised and not surprised that the Rangers couldn’t get a long term deal done with Hayes. I’m surprised because I thought that after the Brady Skjei deal, the Blueshirts would prefer to go to long-term deals. However I am not surprised because Larry Brooks not only mentioned it, but Hayes’ name was in trade talks all summer long. I think we can thank the John Tavares sweepstakes –and possibly the lack of an Erik Karlsson trade– for the Hayes situation right now.

2. When you put the pieces together, it appears that the Rangers never viewed Hayes as a long term solution or part of the core. That’s a little unfortunate, since I like Kevin Hayes and what he brings to the lineup. He’s very under appreciated by many folks. Of course I can be completely off base here, and the Blueshirts may look to extend him in January. But that doesn’t strike me as their plan, mostly because they have more players coming, and Hayes’ contract might have been a road block.

3. With this deal, it looks like Gorton and company are banking hard on Filip Chytil and Lias Andersson making significant strides next year. That makes sense, and it’s tough to argue that philosophy. They are the future and they are likely going to need larger roles, and Hayes would take up a spot. From a roster stand point, I completely understand the short term deal.

4. It goes beyond roster spots too. If Andersson or Chytil surpass Hayes, and odds are at least one of them will, then he moves to 3C, and $5 million is a lot for a 3C. From a long term standpoint, this might be good asset management. This may also explain the Ryan Spooner acquisition, as he’s likely a cheaper version of Hayes that can bounce between the second and third lines a little easier.

5. Assuming I’m right about the organization’s long term views on Hayes, I’d expect him to be dealt at some point before the trade deadline. That could be tomorrow, January, or 2:59pm on deadline day. However I expect him to be dealt. It’s a contract year, so let’s hope he puts up monster numbers and drives up his own cost.

6. Hayes has tremendous offensive vision. In his rookie season, he had more primary points (goals, first assists) than the entire league. Yes, the entire league. Since he entered the league, he’s 41st in primary points in the league, and 25th in primary points/60. Suffice it to say, he was a driver of offense. It won’t be easy to replace that in the short term, even with Chytil and Andersson in the fold.

7. I’m bummed that it appears Hayes won’t be with the club long term. However from a pure hockey stance, I see why this decision was made.

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  • Howden also in the mix! Seems like everybody is forgetting about him with all of the Chytil and Andersson mumbo jumbo lol. But he’s a good size 6’3 200+ I believe and is expected to make a hard push to crack the roster. Can see Chytil or (most likely) Andersson moved to wing and Howden centering the 4th line this season.

  • I get that Hayes is not part of the long term plan, but then they should have traded him.

    And even if it was KEVIN that did not want to sign a long term deal, then the Rangers still should have known that and traded him.

    Gorton messed this up IMO. Did the worst thing that he could do with Hayes. I’m very disappointed with this one.

    • If they were shopping him, as reported by Brooks, then either the Rangers’ ask was too high or there isn’t much interest in him at this point. Perhaps the only trade they could have made would be a trade where most of us think Gorton was taken for a ride.

    • The point of this deal is that they still can trade him. It’s a great move because they can sign and trade to a non-contending team who may see him as a piece of the future (I’m talking to you Calgary…), or to a contending team and expect a return slightly less than that of Rick Nash.

      I think what he did is fine. The worst thing Gorton could’ve done is gone to arbitration, one year deal, and let him walk for nothing as a UFA next year.

      Let’s see how the situation plays out and re-assess after the trade deadline.

      • arbitration=80% that he’s gone

        Offering a expensive 1 year contract= they probably came down from his original asking price of 6.1 mill. They will make him earn it by playing consistently in the top 6 and on the PP. Maybe it’s the Boston thing and Quinn relationship but it’s still up in the air.

    • I agree, I am not getting this approach. This is a young valuable asset. Therefore, either sign him for multiple years where he may be part of the future OR trade him for real assets such as high draft pick(s) or an actual NHL player. Right now, we could lose him for nothing (free agent at end of year) or get $.50 on the dollar return.

      Hopefully, I am completely wrong and he will either be signed to a long term deal in the next few months or traded for a D man (Trouba who also signed a 1 year deal???)

      Again, I would like to think Gorton and company know a hell of a lot more than some jerk like me…

      • He will get his chance to sign long term. JG just needs Some insurance before he offers him this. A bad combo of Zib getting hurt and half of the rookies struggling could help him get that extension. He just has to converts on his top 6 minutes and PP and he than he could turn into the top line center. Every Brooks article has had the idea that Zib could be traded instead and that’s why Hayes didn’t sign whatever they offered, he knows he can make alot of money so now he’s in a prove it deal.

    • KH didn’t want to sign so they will come back to this by next January and February. If they wanted to trade him than they would have already but that’s obviously not the case. They even showed good faith in his 1 year deal that pays him handsomely, they know his worth. It’s all a toss up at this point but I think he will get a chance to maybe even be a 1c hence why Zib’ s name gets thrown around as a possible trade chip.

  • Great post Dave. Obviously, JG et al are very committed to the young center depth and you cant argue that they are not one foot in / one foot out on this reload. I hate that Hayes is the fallout from this rebuild as he is a good 2C on a contender. I saw him a lot in college and he dominated both physically and as a play maker with Johnny Gaudreau. Given what he has done already in the NHL particularly in last year’s tire fire, I suspect that he will be a 65 point guy on a contender.

    For the Rangers this could not have been a surprising outcome for management, and here we are in the middle of the summer with a wasting asset. JG is not dealing from a position of strength now that everyone knows a move has to be made. Don’t want another first round pick. Hopefully we can get a young high ceiling D-man from a cap squeezed team like the Wild or make a trade with Carolina.

    • I’m not sure gorton predicted an absolutely dead trade market this off season. Has to carry spooner Hayes and vlad. doubt they planned that.

      • I meannnnnn it is JG’s own fault he could’ve just traded for Karlsson and the whole market would’ve opened up 😉

  • What concerns me is how this affects team chemistry, knowing that they may just deal one of their better core players (who went through the ringer of the playoffs 3 times and has experience the young players can lean on) by the deadline. It just feels that they’re throwing in the towel already. And trust me, I get that we will be potentially fighting for a playoff spot/could be in the middle of the pack. It’s not like we’re winning the cup this year, but still … I hope Quinn can work some magic with keeping these guys together as a group.

    Because Hayes, Skej and Vesey are all really good friends off the ice … It’s gotta be difficult knowing that a good or bad season, Hayes will most likely be dealt. If he leaves for nothing, that’s terrible asset management by Gorton. And if we trade him to a contender at the deadline, we’re only getting a pick in the 20’s which IMO, is not worth it.

    It stinks, I like Hayes and think he’s really valuable to the team going forward. I’m pumped to see him with a new coach because he’s already proven to be a good hockey player these last few seasons.

    • whoop dee do. They just dealt one of their better wingers. Best defenseman… Zucc Should be next. Part of a rebuilding team . Can’t keep everyone.

      • It’s not the same. Nash is 34, McDonagh is 30 (with miles on his body) and Zucc is 31.

        Hayes is only 26 (with 4 years of pro experience) and has really good 5 on 5 numbers. How many contenders every Spring during the playoffs do we hear that have “great depth up the middle”? Almost all of them.

        That’s why you keep him during this rebuild. We were all moaning and groaning that center was not our point of strength anymore after losing Stepan and Lindberg last year.

        And now you’re sure as hell not getting true value back for him now, unless Gorton fleeces someone or maybe works out a deal with another team who has a guy on a one year contract, a la Trouba.

        • Jt miller has by far better numbers than Hayes and was 2 years younger. I was referring to him.

          I have little patience for the ‘mamby pamby’ stuff.

          • Hayes lines up every night against the opposition’s top competition at even strength and on the PK. And IMO, he was the only one that produced last year on this team, which was a complete disaster. Kind of says something about him.

            Considering Miller just put up 8 points on the way to the Conference Finals with Tampa Bay … the same amount of points he put up on the way to the Conference Finals with the Rangers in 2015 .. he might just be who he is. I still think Hayes has room to grow his game. And we can all agree, Tampa’s team was much more loaded this year than the Rangers in 2015.

            We also dealt Miller for Namestikov (who we re-signed for 2 years)… it’s not like we just gave Miller away for nothing.

          • I was going based on pure stats miller was consistenty in high 50’s.

            Anyway my point was no one other than perhaps chytil is exempt from trade consideration. all the feel good/emotional stuff… I got no time for that

          • By Brooks account, the rookies, Buch and Skjei were untouchables.

            The list of have not were Hayes, Zib, Kreider etc

    • I’ve thought about the chemistry shift as well. Remember that Hayes and Zucc are tight, in his rookie season he spent half of his summer at Zucc’ s place in Norway with Brassard. The following summer they went to Brass place in Canada to spend the summer together. They always go to basketball games as well. The money they offered in the 1 yr deal and the lack of calling him out like they did to Stepan in 2014 will keep people at ease. He still has a chance to get that long term deal and negotiate something in his ballpark if he proves he’s worth it. Quinn is probably a big supporter in all of this.

      JT was getting wasted in upstate NY with a ex of mine after the bar closed. She got all the juicy details about the locker room and Hayes is definitely a popular player on the team. The only time I see Hank chilling outside the rink is with him at basketball games.

        • Haha yeah right, me receiving pics from her are long gone. The info I have about certain players/coaches is honestly better to have in the back of my head and I only date 8′ s and 9 ‘s.

  • I am a fan of Hayes, and understand what the organization is doing, but I still am not too happy with this deal.

    It’s a shame that they can’t move Hayes to 1C, and put Zibby on the wing. He is a better defender, and dishes the puck better, in my opinion, and this gives Zib an opportunity to shot more with Kevin feeding him the puck. This also provides us with additional insurance against injuries. Another area people haven’t given too much consideration is his PK ability. The guy scores plenty of his goals as shorties, breaking up plays with his long reach.

    I hope we can get some quality in return if we do trade him, 99% sure that is the case. Also hope he has a terrific season, so that he can maximize his next contract!!!!!!!

    • Been saying this constantly since Zib got here before they traded away Stepan. All the Ottawa fans were saying how he’s a better scoring winger than a actual top 6 center. We might get to see that but we will have to wait for JG presser to admit it or camp along with Brooks inside sources.

      I don’t see how people can forget about his OK abilities. I think he’s better than Cally was. He could take the puck down at any given moment and score. He lead the league in goals and points since October in 2016 through 2017 and ended up coming 1st. I don’t think he’s going anywhere. They wouldn’t have lowered his value and make him a expensive rental who might not want to sign with his next team he gets traded to.

  • This is not just on the Ranger front office people, Mr. Hayes is the one who claimed he wasn’t going anywhere a few weeks back. What this is clearly is another athlete blowing smoke up our backsides. He wants to be a UFA and that’s the bottom line. It’s his right but I object to these guys who say how much they want to be with a team and then leave. As a center he’s suppose to be good at faceoffs but he’s not. He has never scored 50 points so why does he think he deserves 6mil a year?
    By all means get all you can get as an athlete but PLEASE stop telling us fans how much you love our city when it’s bull and it’s about the money.

    • Why can’t he love the city he’s in and want the best (most money) for himself. I’m a born and raised New Yorker, love my company, and love every second of living in this city for the last 3 decades, and don’t want to leave… but if an offer comes in to go be the CFO of some company in San Fran with stock options worth millions… are you really saying no?

      I think guys can love a city, fans, and a team, and still think it’s fair for them to leave for greener (literally) pastures, just as I (and I imagine most) would.

  • NHL trade rumors site

    Already predicting that he would get resigned in a good season under Quinn. This was a risky move if he wanted to be a NYR for awhile but at the same time he would now earn more term or better clauses awith more money attached to his new extension as a NYR. He’s playing the Bostonian card, a former relationship with Quinn, lack of 200 ft center’s who can produce and match up against top lines on this team. This would make more sense in why he never got traded away when all those teams came calling in for him. I don’t think the FO would spoil a popular asset like this with no intention to resign him. I think that message will get more clearly as camp approaches.

  • Maybe Hayes is just getting a bit greedy and thus it becomes his only priority? Kessel was like that with the Bruins. Still, it would have made more sense to the Rangers and in Hayes trade value to have settled on a 2 year deal.

  • I’m a little puzzled by the move but I definitely understand it. This also provides some strong insight into the thinking of the NYR “braintrust.”

    Cap Friendly lists 12 contracts of NYR’s that are natural centers or can play there. So all of a sudden this has become a depth position. Having flexibility is a good thing to have but it is now incumbent upon the coaching staff to get the top 16 or so into positions where they all can succeed for the good of the team.

    Hayes seems to be more comfortable at center rather than wing. But so are most of the other guys, so we shall see how it plays out.

    Also, there is a lot to be said for a deal like this from a player’s perspective. First $5M+ is not chump change and puts him as the 2nd highest paid forward on the team behind Zib.

    More importantly this is a “show me what you got deal.” Hayes now clearly knows the NYR’s did not want to commit to him long-term and he likely knows he was in trade talks and no one bit.

    All this should prove to be plenty of motivation and Hayes now has major control over his destiny. So it is now on Hayes to produce…or not. Clearly his deployment will have some effect on his numbers but NHL hockey is a team game and again it’s on the coaches to put together a team that is greater than the sum of its parts.

    If Hayes performs then he put’s the onus back on the NYR’s to figure out. Based on where the team is and what Hayes has done come trade deadline time next year will dictate how it all ends.

    Side note – IMO the salaries are continuing to grow faster than production warrants. $5M now seems to be the standard – but giving Hayes or someone with similar production (44 points) $6M a year seems nuts to me….

  • Yeah definitely have mixed feelings on this one. Love Hayes and obviously don’t wanna see him go so I’m not a huge fan of the deal but its understandable. With all of our young C’s coming up, it was looking like either Zib or Hayes were gonna be the odd man out so it gives management more time to evaluate our C situation which isn’t a bad thing. Plus we don’t know every detail of what Hayes was looking for and that could’ve played a big role in this too so I’m gonna hold off from totally bashing Gorton and co. for right now

    That being said, now Hayes has the opportunity to prove himself and if he plays well and consistent I’d love to bring him back on a longer-term deal (could maybe even up his trade value as well) and again, hopefully just provides more clarity on what to do with our log jam of centers albeit it would be based off of half a season

    Will be interesting to see what happens with everyone regardless though. I’m not convinced Hayes is a 1C though he’s shown some flashes (definitely a solid 2C and a good 2-way player). Zib has shown he can be a 1C but his injury history scares me (especially since its concussions coming from personal experience). As far as Chytil/Andersson/Howden, they’ll have to figure something out, maybe move one of them to wing? Chytil obviously has the most offensive potential and I feel like Howden and Andersson are sort of in the same boat i.e. I don’t see them as bona fide 1C’s but can be solid 2C’s or high end 3C’s though I’ll admit I’m more sold on Howden’s upside than Andersson’s at the moment.

  • In isolation I have no problem with the deal as he either does really well under Quinn and we either get great trade value or resign him, or he flops and we saved ourselves a ton of cap space over the coming years.

    What I don’t get is the fact Skjei got a long term deal just days prior. Hayes value/performance was trending up while Skjei down. Really not sure what the thinking is collectively on the two signings. The only thing I could think of is that our depth is shallower with good skating / puck moving defensemen vs Centers.

  • First rule regarding trades: You don’t make a trade just for the sake of trading. If the return isn’t what you need, you don’t do the deal. There are plenty of options still open.

    • Late 1st maximum, or less if Hayes wouldn’t be able to make enough points in a struggling team, signing to 1 year Gorton lost all arguments

  • I am unhappy with the deal. They should have locked up Hayes for a while at a reasonable cost if they could and, if he had to be traded eventually then that would have been an asset not a hinderance.

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