Kevin Hayes will be scratched, should Marc Staal be next?

Hayes (L) celebrates a goal with Staal (Getty)

Hayes (L) celebrates a goal with Staal (Getty)

Alain Vigneault will be scratching disappointing sophomore Kevin Hayes for tomorrow’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. A move long overdue and what could be the first step in a series of moves.

Hayes has 17 points on the year, but just 3 assists in his last 16 games. Subsequently, the Rangers are 4-10-2 and in serious slump. We should note that he isn’t at fault all by himself for the Rangers woeful play but he is a major issue. Aside from his lowly 3 points, he is also a -3 and has committed many defensive gaffs that have led to goals against and penalties. Those who are into possession stats will note his CF is at 47%.

Offensively, Hayes holds on to the puck far too long and isn’t doing much in the way of scoring. He has only mustered 24 shots on net during this 16 game stretch, barely over a shot per game. Fact of the matter is, he’s a defensive liability and isn’t doing anything to generate consistent offense.

The Rangers are hogtied due to the cap and some seriously immovable contracts. Aside from the fact that some guys are making way too much money for what they are producing, they also have no trade/move clauses that prevent any chance of a deal. Matter of fact, the only way to get these guys to waive them is to take away the one thing coach, Alain Vigneault and GM, Jeff Gorton still have control over…ice time.

Marc Staal (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Marc Staal (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

So who should be scratched next? After AV absolved Lundqvist last night, saying the Preds were “teeing off from the ladies tees”, it should be a defenseman.

Now which defenseman should be scratched for the more worthy Dylan McIlrath? Let me start with Marc Staal who has been abysmal this year and only seems to be getting worse. Currently, the 28 year old is a -10 during the Rangers last 16 games. Staal is in his first year of a new 6 year deal that comes with a cap hit of 5.7M AAV. At his age, he shouldn’t be washed up, but he is playing with one eye and has a history of concussions. He seems a step behind, and has become a turnover machine. Sadly, he is a huge defensive liability.

Last year Staal had 20 points and was a +18 with a CF% of 47. Although he has 11 points on the year, defensively he is at an even rating and his CF% is at 45 and sinking. Against the Predators last night he was on the ice for 3 goals against. Including a backbreaking goal where he was too busy searching for a stick then to take Craig Smith in front who would eventually score.

Many would argue that Dan Girardi should also sit, to which I disagree. Yes, Girardi has struggled but he has been playing injured for most of the year. We recently learned that Girardi has a cracked kneecap. Unless, Staal is also plagued with injuries, Girardi at least has an excuse. Last night, Girardi returned and picked up an assist and was a +1. For now, he has at least earned the right to stay in the lineup. Regardless, no one wants to see Chris Summers and Brady Skjei isn’t ready in my estimation.

So will scratching Staal improve the defense? I believe it can. Will scratching him often lead him to open up to the possibility of a trade? Maybe not, but it would likely be the only way to get the conversation of waiving his no trade on the table.

If we want to be realistic, he isn’t going anywhere and neither is Girardi. With that said, Rangers’ fans need to rally behind them and hope they find their form from last season.

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