Larry Brooks of the NY Post has noted that the Blueshirts are talking to both Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello about contracts. This information does not necessarily mean that either player is going to be re-signed or taken off the table at the deadline.
The Post has learned that general manager Jeff Gorton is now engaged in an ongoing dialogue with the agents for pending free agents Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Hayes as the Blueshirts weigh extending the contracts of two of their best players against the return they might get for either or both on the market.Larry Brooks
Over the last few days there has been much speculation from Bob McKenzie to Scott Burnside all noting that the return for either player might be coming in soft.
The consensus on Zuccarello appears to be no better than a 2nd round pick and a prospect. Burnside even indicated that Hayes may not get the 1st round pick everyone expected. So it would be fair to discern that Gorton also wants to get the news out that he is willing to keep both these players if the offers don’t improve.
The bottom line here is that Jeff Gorton has to be getting ready to deal with the NHL Trade deadline in 9 days. He needs to understand the contract demands for both players and see if that fits with their offseason plan of going after UFA players like Artemi Panarin, Jeff Skinner, Erik Karlsson and possibly Mark Stone or Matt Duchene.
As per CapFriendly, the Rangers will have about $23,463,890 to play with this summer. They will have 14 players under contract and keeping both Zuccarello and Hayes could be anywhere between 11 to 14 million in cap space. That doesn’t really leave them too much room to add a significant UFA and about 6 other players to fill out the roster.
It is going to be a very interesting over the next 9 days, that is for certain. Regardless of this information coming from Brooks it still seems very likely at least one of these players will be traded at the deadline if not both.