Kevin Hayes playing like he belongs on the Rangers
Since being moved to the wing, centered by Kevin Hayes, Filip Chytil went on a five-game goal-scoring streak in as many games. Even though he has gone without a point over the last two games, you can still see the confidence with which he is playing. Chytil is able to play a simpler game on the wing, not having to account for all 200-feet of the ice; a job, which has been done wonderfully by 26-year-old Kevin Hayes.
Hayes is having a remarkable start to the season with 17 points in 25 games thus far, and is arguably the Rangers best forward. Because of his great start, and the way the line of Kreider, Hayes, and Chytil have produced; the question of “What do the Rangers do with Hayes” begins to be brought up again.
Over the summer, the Rangers and Hayes came to terms on a one-year deal carrying an AAV of $5.175 million and avoiding arbitration. As we all know, Hayes will become a UFA at the end of this season. When the deal was signed, nearly everyone believed this would be Hayes’ last stint on Broadway, skating his way to a trade by the February deadline due to a glut at the center ice position. Because of this glut, Andersson was sent down to Hartford with Chytil centering the fourth line, and Howden the third.
Since then, Andersson is now centering the fourth line, while the 19-year-old Czech plays wing on the second line with Kreider, centered by Hayes. Since Quinn put this line together a handful of games ago, they have been the best the Rangers put on the ice every night. It is evident the move to wing has been extremely beneficial to Chytil’s development as he is both playing big time minutes, and producing offensively for this young Rangers team. The way this line is going, it is almost as if they create a scoring chance every time they are on the ice; which brings us back to the question regarding Hayes and an extension or a trade.
It’s easy to say “Trade Hayes for a first-round pick and a mid-level prospect,” but is it as valuable as it sounds? What I mean is, if we look at a realistic suitor for Hayes like Winnipeg, is the return actually worth it? If the Rangers were to trade Hayes to Winnipeg and received a first-round pick and a prospect, the pick would most likely be between 24 and 31, and the prospect probably would not be their top gun in Kristian Vesalainen. So my question is, is this trade really worth it? Or is it better to extend the 26-year-old Boston College product?
My answer: I know it is a small sample size, but the line of Kreider, Hayes, and Chytil can be one that is a mainstay as the Rangers go through this rebuild and beyond. If the Rangers gave Hayes a deal of five years with an AAV of approximately $5.75 – 6 million, he would still have, at the very least, three very good seasons left, with two good seasons following. Kreider, the other member of that line, who is a UFA in the summer of 2020, will probably fetch a deal in the six or seven year range and carrying an AAV of about $7 million if he continues to play at this level. Obviously, we know Chytil being only 19, playing under his entry-level-contract is not even in the discussion of contract negotiation. So to me it has become a no-brainer to re-sign the big centerman and have that as a focal point in the top six for a handful of years.
Let me also leave you with this thought. If the Rangers were to extend Hayes this season, Kreider the following year, and landed a particular Russian forward currently playing in Columbus, David Quinn’s forward group could look something like this:
Panarin – Zibanejad – Buchnevich
Chytil – Hayes – Kreider
Vesey – Howden – Kravstov
Fast – Andersson – Strome/Namestnikov
Now who says no to that?