It’s time to trade Hayes: 3 Trade Scenarios for the Rangers

USA Today

The time is now. Kevin Hayes has played some of the best hockey of his career this season for the New York Rangers but with the Rangers looking like the incomplete team we all knew they were at the beginning of the season, it’s time for GM Jeff Gorton to do what needs to be done: Trade Kevin Hayes.

Hayes has been one of the Rangers’ best players this season but that means he could get some great assets back in return. Losing a player like Hayes would make the Rangers a slightly worse team, but that would bring about more lottery balls in June. Where should Hayes be traded to? What should we get in return? When will it happen? Here are your answers.

The three most rumored teams that have inquired about Kevin Hayes’ services have been the Winnipeg Jets, the Boston Bruins, and the Colorado Avalanche. All three have promising young assets that the Rangers could ask for in return, and there’s always the allure of asking for a first round pick from any of those teams. Beginning with the Jets, there is a trade package that I think would benefit both teams in the long run.

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The New York Rangers trade Kevin Hayes to the Winnipeg Jets for prospect Kristian Vesalainen and a second-round pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft

I’ve been a huge advocate of the Rangers trying to acquire Vesalainen for over a year now when there were rumblings that the Jets were inquiring about Mats Zuccarello. He is one of the best prospects in the Winnipeg system, and with all the firepower they have up-front with Nikolaj Ehlers, Patrik Laine, Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor, they won’t suffer too big of a loss trading Vesalainen. The Jets would be acquiring a great second-line center who could slot in between Nikolaj Ehlers and Patrik Laine. Hayes could provide a Paul Stastny like spark for the Jets and they would be even scarier down the middle. Bryan Little isn’t the player he used to be and as much potential as Jack Roslovic has, he hasn’t reached it yet.

As for the Rangers in this trade, they are acquiring a winger with one of the highest ceilings from the 2017 Entry Draft. Vesalainen scored 39 points in 44 games for HPK in Liiga last season and this season for Jokerit in the KHL he has five points in six games. Standing at 6’4” and weighing 207 pounds, he’s got the size to step into the Rangers lineup whenever the team feels he’s ready and could challenge for a roster spot as soon as next season. Imagine having an injection of Kravtsov and Vesalainen on the wings next year? That would help the rebuild along spectacularly. The second-round pick just gives the Rangers more to play with in June as the rebuild rolls along. This trade opens up a spot in the lineup for Lias Andersson full-time and should let him get some minutes in the top six to show he belongs in the NHL.

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The New York Rangers trade Kevin Hayes to the Boston Bruins for Jack Studnika and a first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, and a conditional second-round pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft (If Hayes re-signs in Boston)

The Bruins could be without Patrice Bergeron for quite a while and Hayes would do wonders for their center-ice depth. With David Krejci currently playing first-line minutes alongside Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, Hayes could slot in on a second line with David Backes/Ryan Donato/Danton Heinen to give the Bruins a nice punch behind the main line. The first-round pick will be tough to give up for the Bruins a second year in a row; but when your top players in Bergeron, Marchand, and Pastrnak are in their primes, you need to go for it and try to win while you have them in your lineup. Hayes gives them a better chance to succeed both in the regular season and in the playoffs, and if Bergeron does come back sooner rather than later, a center ice depth chart of Bergeron, Krejci, and Hayes would be formidable.

The Rangers would be getting another first rounder in a deep 2019 draft, and they would be acquiring a forward in Jack Studnika who has improved every season in the OHL. Currently, in his fourth season playing for the Oshawa Generals, Studnika is on pace for over 70 points again this season and could be a solid contributor in the NHL when he is ready to make the jump. Studnika, the captain of the Generals, possesses great leadership qualities as well and the Rangers would be adding another solid forward prospect to their pipeline as the rebuild continues. The conditional pick if Hayes re-signs for his hometown Bruins sweetens this deal for the Blueshirts.

The Canadian Press

The New York Rangers trade Kevin Hayes to the Colorado Avalanche for Conor Timmins and a first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft

In the final of these hypothetical trades for Hayes, the Avalanche get a nice second-line center behind Nathan MacKinnon to play with Tyson Jost and Alex Kerfoot/Sven Andrighetto. While Jost might be the Avs’ second-line center of the future, Hayes gives them a solid second-line guy while Jost still ascends to his ceiling. Hayes helps the Avs compete in a deep Central Division and gives them a better chance to succeed in the short term as well as the long term. Losing Timmins hurts but having someone like Cale Makar in the system makes up for it. In addition, the Avs won’t miss that first round pick since they have that Senators’ first rounder which could turn into Jack Hughes at the end of the season.

The Rangers get another strong defensive prospect to bolster their pipeline. Timmins was one of the best defensemen in the OHL with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds last season, and although he is currently dealing with an injury, he has an extremely high ceiling. When you’re going through a rebuild you need to get as many assets as you can and the Rangers would do well acquiring yet another prospect with a high ceiling. Timmins had 41 points in 36 OHL games last year. Having another first rounder gives the Rangers more to play with in June.