Four Rangers File For Salary Arbitration

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The deadline for players to file for salary arbitration passed yesterday afternoon and four Rangers have filed for contract mediation.

Forwards Jimmy Vesey, Kevin Hayes, and Ryan Spooner applied for arbitration, as did defenseman Brady Skjei. As Brett Cyrgalis mentioned in his NY Post article, there is still a really good chance that all four will be re-signed before an arbiter gets involved. In addition, the last time the Rangers and a player went to arbitration was back in 2007.

For Skjei and Vesey, both are coming off of their entry-level contracts, and both are looking to make some serious cash. Skjei has really emerged as a top-pair defender for the Rangers, using his speed and defensive abilities to help shut down the opposition. In terms of his next contract, I would think that Skjei will get somewhere in the $4-5 million range for four years. He has had a great start to his career, and now it’s time for him to earn his money.

Vesey, on the other hand, has been nothing more than a bottom-six player so far in his career. The 25-year-old has put up two consecutive seasons of less than 30 points, playing well below the expectations of some Rangers fans. While Vesey may feel he’s earned a larger payday, he realistically should receive a bridge deal of around $2.5-3 million so he can prove to the organization that he is worth a larger amount of money.

Ryan Spooner just finished a one-year contract worth $2.825 million, and the versatile forward should expect to be receiving a somewhat similar offer from the Rangers. He performed admirably after coming over to the Blueshirts in the deadline deal that sent Rick Nash to Boston, putting up 16 points (4G, 12A) in 20 games. Jeff Gorton should look to give Spooner a three-year deal with an AAV of around $3.5 million.

Of the four who filed for arbitration, Kevin Hayes is the most interesting case. Hayes is looking for a large salary increase from his last contract which saw him earning $2.6 million per year. Hayes is coming off of a 25-goal season for the Blueshirts, though he did not put up a lot of assists to have that “breakout” season that we’ve all been waiting for. Hayes has the talent to be a top-six forward in the NHL, and perhaps he is looking to be paid like one. But we have yet to see Hayes put it all together, opting to pass up numerous shooting chances for the “extra pass” or trying to stickhandle his way through multiple defenders.

As we look towards the next contract for Hayes, he should get a decent pay bump, but I don’t think it will be what he’s expecting. The ceiling for Hayes is sky-high, but until he shows that he can consistently play at the big money level, Jeff Gorton shouldn’t give Hayes a massive deal. I believe Hayes is valuable to the team, but in the $4-5 million range, and not in the bracket of $6 million or more.

One aspect of arbitration that should not be forgotten is that these players can still be traded even if they aren’t signed to a new contract. We have written multiple articles on the site about moving Hayes for younger pieces as many fans, and perhaps some within the organization may have reached their boiling point with Hayes and his “stagnation.” Hayes is the most tradable asset in Jeff Gorton’s arsenal, and if he chooses to move the versatile forward, the Rangers should be able to get a nice return for the rebuild.