Brooks: Rangers and Hayes Close To Signing One Year Contract
In Larry Brooks’ Saturday version of Slap Shots for the NY Post, the reporter noted that the Rangers and Kevin Hayes are inching towards a one-year deal for next season.
Depending on who you ask, Hayes is a player that could be worth a large contract payout. But for some, myself included, he is still unproven at the NHL level. Does he have the ability and skill necessary to succeed in today’s game? I believe he does but he doesn’t always use those skills properly.
For instance, it has been well documented by the Rangers broadcasters and other that Hayes has a knack for holding onto the puck for too long while trying to make an extra pass or deke. While that is something that may have worked in practice and at younger levels of hockey, it isn’t something that will endear himself to the coaches or fans when a clear scoring opportunity is there for the taking.
One thing Hayes has going for him is that he can play both down the middle and on the wing. Having that versatility in your forward group is nice, especially when rookies like Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil, assuming they make the opening night roster, may need Hayes to lean on as a veteran centerman.
When we look at the stats, Hayes has never scored more than 50 points in his four NHL seasons, despite playing in 95% of the team’s games in that time. Another stat to look at is his faceoff percentage, which sits at 44% for his career. For a third or fourth line center that number would be reasonable, but for the team’s second-line pivot, that simply isn’t good enough.
What does this all mean for the Rangers going forward? For one thing, it means that barring Hayes having a superb season heading into the February 2019 trade deadline, the 26-year-old is likely in his final year on Broadway. The Rangers have three highly talented center prospects waiting for their shot at NHL stardom in Andersson, Chytil and Brett Howden. If Hayes is dealt at the 2019 deadline, Jeff Gorton should be able to get a decent haul in return for Hayes.
I get the feeling that once the season starts, Hayes won’t want to discuss a contract extension, ultimately sealing his departure from the friendly confines at 33rd and 7th.
The Kevin Hayes contract saga will be resolved by Thursday, when the NHL arbitrator will decided how much Hayes will make next season. As I wrote when Hayes and the other Rangers RFAs filed for arbitration, Hayes sees himself as a big money player, with Brooks reporting that Hayes is looking for a contract with an AAV in the $6M ballpark. Regardless of what his contract will be next season, Hayes will be playing for that big payday he’s been asking for when he becomes a UFA after the 2018-19 campaign.