Ever since Kevin Hayes inked his one year deal, a deal that brings him to unrestricted free agency at 27 years old, Rangers fans have been buzzing with where he might wind up. It is no longer a matter of if, but a matter of when. Hayes will be traded by the trade deadline. A player of his skill set, a top/middle-six center, should garner a good amount of attention as well.
1. San Jose is my leading guess. They missed out on John Tavares, they are still competing in their closing window, and you never know when Joe Thornton can’t handle big minutes anymore. Hayes addresses some team needs. The big discussion is cost. I have no idea what Hayes could fetch, but it’s safe to assume a first round pick and a solid prospect is the starting point. But SJ doesn’t have their first rounder this year. That’s a wrench.
2. If neither of Danton Heinen nor Ryan Donato stick, the Bruins could be looking for top-six help to keep pace with the Lightning. They have the picks and the prospects to get it done as well. But that’s a bit if, because both Heinen and Donato are supposed to make the team outright. If Boston is truly going to be in on Hayes, they would likely be in at the deadline, not before.
3. The Blackhawks are in desperate need of middle-six help. There’s no way 38 year old Chris Kunitz or Marcus Kruger will fill that need. Outside of Kane, Toews, Saad, DeBrincat, and Anisimov, the Hawks have a ton of question marks. Hayes would be a good fit there. But would the Hawks be willing to part with a first roudner this year and perhaps Ian Mitchell, their second rounder last year? I don’t know.
4. The dark horse here is Dallas. They missed out on basically everyone. Jason Spezza is 35. There are questions about his and Tyler Seguin’s future in Dallas. Hayes, assuming they can sign him long-term, offers them a cheaper 2C than Spezza when that deal expires. Unless they really think Martin Hanzal is the answer.
5. I could see Anaheim kicking the tires, but I don’t think that’s a good fit. The Ducks have a good amount of forwards, and Hayes would likely be shifted off his natural center spot. That said, you never know."Where could Kevin Hayes wind up?",