Brooks: Rangers now engaging in contract talks with Zuccarello, Hayes

In a pretty big shift from expectations, Larry Brooks is reporting that the Rangers and pending UFAs Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes are engaging in contract extension talks. This comes in stark contrast to earlier reports where the Rangers had not reached out to either camp and trades were all but expected.

As we get closer to the deadline, the Rangers are playing better hockey of late. Zuccarello and Hayes have been a major part of this, as they represent one-half of the primary scoring for the Rangers. Hayes has had a great season, and Zuccarello has been on an absolute tear over the past month.

Both Hayes and Zuccarello are the big-ticket trade pieces that can bring back hauls for the Blueshirts at the deadline. However Bob McKenzie noted the other day that the Rangers aren’t necessarily getting the offers they may have wanted for Hayes, which may be the reason why the contract talks are starting up so late.

In this scenario, the Rangers are not getting what they want for their prized UFA center, and this is likely because Ottawa screwed them in deadline talks again (last year it was Erik Karlsson kind of but not really being made available, impacting the Ryan McDonagh trade talks), with both Mark Stone and Matt Duchene available. Stone and Duchene are better than Hayes, so this shouldn’t surprise anyone.

For the Blueshirts, it’s a big decision to be made. Do they risk signing Hayes to a massive deal and getting nothing for him? Do they sign Zuccarello knowing that he’s already 30 years old? This certainly doesn’t scream rebuild. It screams half measures. But then again, is trading them worth a subpar return? After the public reaction of the McDonagh deal, Jeff Gorton may be getting cold feet.

There’s always the risky business of a trade and re-sign, but that’s not all that likely, especially in Hayes’ situation. Zuccarello has taken a hometown discount on his past two contracts, so it’s more likely with him.

If the Rangers decide to keep both, then something needs to be done to address the blue line and overall team forward depth. The Blueshirts would no longer be in rebuild mode. Just one year after the public letter to the fans as well. It’s not a certainty yet, but it is certainly a quick shift in organizational direction.

Of course, this could be a ploy by the Rangers. If they are negotiating with both on contract extensions, perhaps teams offer a little more to pry them away.

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40 thoughts on “Brooks: Rangers now engaging in contract talks with Zuccarello, Hayes

  • Feb 16, 2019 at 1:36 pm

    Trade both and get as much as you can in return. If the interest is there next season, and one, or both want back into the organization, we then have that option to resign them, while also getting some return in advance. That’s a win, win situation!!!!!!!

    Please whatever they do, no half assed rebuild, just follow what the team did last season…………

    • Feb 16, 2019 at 1:43 pm

      For them to “start talking “ this late brings up are they getting traded . Zinc for a 2nd rounder and prospect ( can’t see much more coming back unless they package it with one of our traffic cones ). Hayes , is he really a 2nd line center comparing him to most others teams #2 ? I say he’s great 3rd and a decent 2nd . What comes back is the question , doesn’t sound like much is being offered . So now hopefully it’s a short deal , 4.8 to 5.5 a yr. so much for the rebuild unless Staal , Shittypants , McQuaid and Smith are on the move !

      • Feb 16, 2019 at 3:08 pm

        Hayes has 40 points in 48 games. Do you really think that’s what you’ll get from a 3rd line center? He’s a bona fide 2nd line guy and before Z went on his little tear there was debate as to which one of them was the 1st line center. Hayes is a monster, he controls the puck and gets more and more savvy each year. He can eat up ice time, on the PK, the PP and of course at even strength. He’ll be very difficult to replace and with whatever we get back in return it will take years to measure up to him. He’s part of the core, he’s a team leader NOW … hell, he’s captain material, every bit as much as guys like Kreider and the two Z’s.

        Why is it everyone thinks the grass is greener on other teams? It isn’t. If Ranger fans watched other teams and dissected them as much as they dissect the Rangers, they would know that. We are one sniper winger (like a Skinner or a Panarin — maybe Stone) and a small upgrade of the bottom 6 plus the switching out of two d’men away from being a dam good team. Can it be done by trading away Hayes? Absolutely not. This team never needed a full rebuild, it needed a new voice (coach) and some tweaking of the core that was getting stale — plus of course a revamping of the d’ corp.

        • Feb 16, 2019 at 3:35 pm

          “He’s a bona fide 2nd line guy and before Z went on his little tear there was debate as to which one of them was the 1st line center. Hayes is a monster”

          I love you Tanto. He also lead the team in points until he went down.

        • Feb 16, 2019 at 3:51 pm

          Ha, we only need a sniper, some more forward depth, a couple of bottom 6’ers, two or three top d guys….is that all???

          • Feb 16, 2019 at 4:12 pm

            Yes, that’s all … the sniper comes through free agency (possibly), the forward depth comes in the form of adding Kravtsov and Andersson (he’ll improve), I think Boo only gets better now that he’s somewhat solidified. Vesey is fine on a 3rd line, Strome and Namestnikov as well … and I never said 2 or 3 TOP d’ guys, I said switch OUT two guys on D. I see a resurgence in the way Shattenkirk is playing now (and no, he’ll never be perfect). I love Tony D, he’s only getting better … and Pionk, if not faced with a Top pairing matchups is quite adequate. Skjei is looking better. Trade McQuaid and find someone to take either Staal or Smith off our hands.

        • Feb 16, 2019 at 3:53 pm

          Hayes is a good hockey player … and yes he’s a very decent #2 center on a contending team provided he has very good supporting wingers. He is ABSOLUTELY NOT A LEADER, therefore he is NOT captain material IMO.

          He is a 26 year old center on a team with young centers waiting in the wings… it’s somewhat understood he is asking for an expensive contract with a NMC/NTC type clause and I don’t think this team is a Cup contender yet. Right now he’s 2nd best (behind Zib) in a group of redundant position players.

          I ABSOLUTELY hate the NTC clause aspect of an impending contract, it’s time to say goodbye to our 6’5” 220 lb. figure skater.

          • Feb 16, 2019 at 4:23 pm

            On what basis do you so vehemently suggest he isn’t a leader? He has a great personality and seems to get along with the rest of the core — I’m not suggesting he’s a clear choice as captain, as I suggested he seems just as capable to be a leader on this team as Zucc (probably too quiet/shy off ice), Zib and Kreider (my personal choice). You want someone larger than life, gregarious and a team player — and Hayes, like Kreider, seems to fit that bill. He’s done everything we ever asked him to, he has a very good rapport with Quinn and for crying out loud, he’s 26! 26! 26 is a PRIME year, so is 27 and 28, probably 29. Just structure the contract with some intelligence, a limited NTC with front loaded money, try to keep the term at 5-6 years.

            Why shouldn’t we reap the benefit of his development? This isn’t like Miller (a bit of a headcase and thoroughly inconsistent) or McD (showing evidence of breaking down some).

            • Feb 16, 2019 at 5:08 pm

              Tanto… a nice personality doesn’t mean you’re a leader especially in the NHL. I’ve never and I mean NEVER seen Hayes have the back of any Ranger player ever. Did you notice 5’10” ADA last night? Do you think 6’5” Hayes would have stood up like that? I’ve never seen it! Do the players rally around Hayes ever… does Hayes engage the referees especially with all the stupid-ass miscalls and bad calls going on each night? Does this guy use his size with ANY tenacity, ever? Does Hayes EVER mix it up with defensemen fighting for space in the opposing goalie’s crease? Hell no! It always seems, to me, that he is on the periphery of every multi player scrum when he is on the ice… great leader!

              Granted, he uses his size to shield the puck and has excellent possession skills. Does that make him a leader? McDonagh was a great hockey player, but he wasn’t captain material either. To tell you the truth, a captain should lead by example, and Hayes does not set a leader’s example IMO.

              • Feb 16, 2019 at 5:22 pm

                He’s a leader over the summer, that’s for sure.

              • Feb 16, 2019 at 5:49 pm


                Your analysis, and description of Hayes is spot on. Has he ever doped the gloves, I for one never saw it if he did? I thought Stepan was soft, but compared to Hayes, he was made of steel!!!!!!

                He couldn’t lead a kindergarten class to the rest room, let alone this team. As big a man as he is in stature, he has the heart of the straw-man………….

              • Feb 16, 2019 at 7:16 pm

                So now the measure of a leader is whether he drops the gloves? Guess you wanted Cody McLeod to be our leader. Guess Gretzky could never be a captain. You have a very narrow view of what a leader is.

                Re: the personality, I didn’t say NICE … I said great. This isn’t about nice … and I did say Kreider is my personal choice to be named Captain but that Hayes was CAPABLE.

                Hey I get it, you want Hayes off the team — don’t suggest otherwise — but that doesn’t mean you have to twist what I said to prove to everybody that he needs to go. 😉

            • Feb 17, 2019 at 8:20 am

              Hey I get it, you want Hayes off the team — don’t suggest otherwise

              Never did, let the guy go………….

            • Feb 17, 2019 at 9:45 am

              Kevin Hayes has proven that he’s for himself, which is fine and I’m not blaming him, but calling him a “leader” is way off base.

              Zuc is a leader. Kreider is a leader. Even Zib is more of a leader.

              • Feb 17, 2019 at 10:17 am

                Yep and isn’t it funny that Hayes is managing is best ppg season in a contract year. Great timing to put in your absolute best effort.

              • Feb 17, 2019 at 10:28 am

                Leading his teammates to the bar after the game is more Hayes’ type of leadership, anyway.

              • Feb 17, 2019 at 2:23 pm

                said it many times, could be Evander Kane all over again, meaning playing well in a contract year.

        • Feb 16, 2019 at 4:55 pm

          I Agree Tanto. Zib may not be a true #1 center. He shows flashes of it but that needs to be game in and game out in order to be a true #1. I think he fills Steps spot.

          • Feb 16, 2019 at 5:45 pm

            King… with the number of teams in the NHL, theoretically there are approximately 30 #1 centers. I would be hard pressed to find 25 centers better than Zib. So based on that premise Zib is a true #1. No?

            • Feb 16, 2019 at 6:39 pm

              He kinda got thrown in the roll which like I said is showing great results , just needs to more consistent and a touch harder on the defensive side of the puck ( that’s where I see his game got better for sure ).

          • Feb 16, 2019 at 7:23 pm

            Zib is 25 and growing into it — I could say the same for Hayes. No, neither is an elite premium 1st line center (1A) but maybe they’re both 1Bs. That’s a strength, not a weakness. I think each benefits from the presence of the other in the lineup.

            The only way to upgrade either one of them is to either get very lucky in the draft or to sign a UFA (like say we had signed Tavares last year). Do any of you see that happening in the near future? Nope, didn’t think so … we can however possibly snag an elite winger to pair up with one of them. So I don’t really see trading Hayes this year as the smartest move.

            • Feb 16, 2019 at 9:12 pm

              I guess with Hayes they are finding out the return isn’t what they are looking for. So what does it take to sign him ( wasn’t he kinda holding out both signings? ) and for how many years. Not even sure what our cap is at now with the bad contracts we have. Maybe 5-5.5 mil max , 5 years ?

        • Feb 16, 2019 at 9:56 pm

          This is an awesome post, I really and truly could not agree more.

          Nailed it, kid!

      • Feb 16, 2019 at 3:10 pm

        Forgot to add, it’s a buyers market right now … that could change in the next week or two, but maybe not. Focus on trying to trade some of the d and maybe Zucc — because Zucc is the one guy I think might actually come back if asked on a team friendly deal.

  • Feb 16, 2019 at 5:23 pm

    I lean toward keeping Hayes if a reasonable contract can be agreed upon. He is difficult to replace and I just do not see him bringing back more than he is worth.

    With Zuccarello it depends upon what they are offered. I’d love it if they could get something for him a the deadline and then re-sign him to a short term deal in the off season, but who knows if that will happen. The organization does not have a lot of wings in the wing so Zucc is valuable to the team for that reason and because of his leadership by example. You don’t want to sign him long term at his age but 2 or 3 years while they rebuild might work.

    • Feb 16, 2019 at 7:25 pm

      Exactly … re: Zucc though, you can possibly take that $4.5m and work to get an elite winger like Panarin in the offseason —- but there are no elite UFA centers, hence Hayes is going to be near impossible to replace.

  • Feb 16, 2019 at 5:35 pm

    My thoughts about the deadline is clear out the aging defensemen to the extent possible (Staal is likely not tradable.) Try to obtain young forwards with some size and skills if possible who are close to NHL ready and/or perhaps a young defenseman with good skills. I think that getting better forward lines and playing young and fleet defensemen is the way for the team to improve over the long haul.

  • Feb 16, 2019 at 6:32 pm

    this is most likely posturing from Gorton. Signing both now would in my opinion fly in the face of the letter they released last season when they got an underwhelming return for mcd and now have a massive hole there. bc of a three week stretch you are switching tracks? at this rate with limited changes they will not have a top ten pick. like I said before this season, the organization is directionless, without a rudder – with no plan.

  • Feb 16, 2019 at 9:48 pm

    “Of course, this could be a ploy by the Rangers. If they are negotiating with both on contract extensions, perhaps teams offer a little more to pry them away.”

    I’m not a betting man, but if I was, I’m betting big time on this!

    Miami Boat Show today, really nice!

  • Feb 17, 2019 at 5:14 am

    welp, in his column today brooks is already walking back his Saturday article. maybe he watched Elliot Friedman’s report sat night, or it was meant as a one day seed of doubt by gorton. so fasten your seatbelts.

    • Feb 17, 2019 at 10:30 am

      Normally I don’t agree with much of what you say, but you’re spot on with the Brooks thing. His column today might as well be a retraction of yesterday’s.

      • Feb 17, 2019 at 11:16 am

        Brooks will write anything for the sake of copy. One day he says trade a guy, a week later he writes an article telling us that the same guy needs to be resigned. He doesn’t just talk out of two sides of his mouth, he can talk out of four: left side, right side, top side and down side.

  • Feb 17, 2019 at 7:26 am

    The funniest part of all this is those two can help in a rebuild with how they play the game. You always need some veteran prescence in the locker room.

    You should be talking about getting rid of King 4 or more.

    You know why?

    22-4-0. 1.19 GAA and .949 SV

    The King should watch out. Igor is coming for him.

    You need to dump albatrosses from your roster. Lundqvist , Staal. Both on bad contracts , both need to go or retire.

    Double down on Hayes and Zucc. For two years. Sell them off after one.

    • Feb 17, 2019 at 8:51 am

      How dare you speak the truth Mikeyyy !

    • Feb 17, 2019 at 2:59 pm

      I hate to say it but Hank’s $8.5m per would be better spent on a top flight forward.

    • Feb 17, 2019 at 3:06 pm

      Is there any chance in the world that Lundqvist could be moved? It’s something that’s rarely mentioned in mainstream media. Could someone be kind enough to give me a quick update- I’m aware he has a no-trade clause but he’s a soon to be 37 year old on a team that’s probably a minimum of two years away from making some noise. How does this make any sense? Why wouldn’t he agree to move to a contender? He can always come back to NY and sell suits or be a fashion model after he retires, can’t he? His contract has to be killing them. I would also suggest a restraining order keeping Slats at least 100 miles away from MSG but that’s another story for another day.

  • Feb 17, 2019 at 10:26 am

    Brooks is stirring the Pot, not coming down on Brooks but I know of the opposite going on, but let’s see how thinks pan out from today through the 25th.

    • Feb 17, 2019 at 10:37 am

      AZg… do you think the NMC/NTC situation is the main problem for Gorton regarding Hayes?

      • Feb 17, 2019 at 2:24 pm

        Term is an issue here. and I’m sure that Hayes is asking for restricted movement clauses.

  • Feb 17, 2019 at 5:12 pm

    Overall I’m not buying it, I think that the trades will come.

    But the Rangers asking what their possible contract terms are does not constitute serious contract negotiations. They’re just doing their due diligence.

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