Rangers Counterpoint: why Hayes MUST be traded

Hayes (Getty Images)

Week in and week out, there are the same rumblings coming out of Rangerstown. The biggest discussion has been the Kevin Hayes controversy. Hayes is having a marvelous season as he rides a 9 game point streak and is on pace for 73 points. Let me say this before I dive into this; I by no means think Kevin Hayes is a BAD player; quite the contrary I think he is a very good NHL player who would be an integral part of any team.

I have been pro-trade Hayes for quite sometime now and it is not because of his play. Hayes will be a 55-60 point scorer every year for the next several years and any team would be lucky to have him; I just do not know how it fits in the cards both in terms of the rebuild, and more importantly, financially. Here’s what I found……

Obviously the Rangers current finances are fine, being that they roster a team every night and are under the salary cap. What I did with the use of www.capfriendly.com, was take a look at the Rangers finances next year and how a Hayes signing would fit. For the 2019-2020 season, the New York Rangers have the following players under contract with the following cap hits:

Forwards

Mika Zibanejad – $5.35m

Chris Kreider – $4.625m

Ryan Strome – $3.1m

Jimmy Vesey – $2.275m

Jesper Fast – $1.85m

Filip Chytil – $895k

Brett Howden – $863k

Lias Andersson – $895k (I fully assume he will be on team full time next year)

Defensemen

Kevin Shattenkirk – $6.65m

Marc Staal – $5.7m

Brady Skjei – $5.25m

Goalies

Henrik Lundqvist – $8.5m

Alexander Georgiev – $793k

Total in buyouts/buried contracts/salary holds including what I assume will be a buyout of Brendan Smith:

$5,894,611

If you add all of those numbers up, the Rangers will have an account on their books of $56,640,611. This will leave them with $22,859,611 in cap space. It does sound like a lot of money but let’s look at what HAS to be done and what NYR brass WANTS to do. Keep in mind the impending RFA’s in Buchnevich, DeAngelo, and Pionk, and obviously the big UFA Kevin Hayes. I am also assuming Mats Zuccarello will not be apart of this team next season…..actually even sooner.

Under this current 2019-2020 model (and projection with Smith buyout), the Rangers will have 15 players under contract: 10 forwards, 3 defensemen, and 2 goaltenders. The goalie department is obviously fine so we will take a look at the forwards and defensemen. The big club has typically carried 13 forwards, 7 defensemen, and 2 goalies, so this will be the model that I use when doing this projection. This means the Rangers still need to fill 3 forwards, and 4 defensemen.

The big splash that the Rangers want to make this summer is Artemi Panarin. I have been on the Panarin train for quite sometime now being that he will drastically push this rebuild. If (and in my opinion when) the Rangers sign Panarin on July 1, it will cost them a pretty penny. I believe that Panarin will get the max of 7 years that will carry an AAV of $11.5 million. Assuming this signing does occur and with the contract situations mentioned above, Panarin would put the Rangers at 11 forwards, 3 defensemen, and 2 goalies.

After this signing, the Rangers will have $11,359,389 in cap space remaining. This now brings us to Kevin Hayes. In a recent article by The Athletics Rick Carpinello, he insinuates that Hayes will likely be traded because of the contract he is looking for. Carp said, and I quote “The Rangers aren’t likely to go to the six years, $6.25 million or so that it will take to re-sign Hayes, who turns 27 in May”. So judging by this Hayes is seeking a contract somewhere in the $6-7 million range, so for the sake of argument, I said Hayes will get a contract carrying an AAV of $7 million. If the Rangers give Hayes this type of deal, then Hayes will bring the 2019 roster to 11 forwards, 3 defensemen, and 2 goalies, with $4,359,389 left to spend.

Looking at these numbers, after the signings of Panarin and Hayes, the Rangers still need to fill 6 roster spots; 2 forwards and 4 defensemen. This has to be done with just $4,359,389. An ELC at first carries an AAV of $925,000, and if the Rangers were to fill those 6 spots with ELC’s, they would be $1,190,611 OVER THE SALARY CAP….oh and not to mention you still have Buch, Pionk, and DeAngelo due for deals and Krieder due for a MASSIVE pay raise by July 1, 2020.

So, for all the “Keep Hayes” fans out there, here is a lay of the land in terms of finances for the Rangers. I have absolutely no idea how the Rangers can pull off keeping Hayes, signing Panarin, and putting the rest of the roster together. Yes, I understand their books open up in 2021 being that Staal, Shatty, and Hank all come off the books, but that does not help them now. The choice is this: you keep Hayes at that price and have a VERY tough time getting Panarin, or you move Hayes for good assets and clear the decks for Panarin.

If anyone has any idea of how the Rangers can roster a good team, sign Hayes and Panarin, and find a way to keep the RFAs, I am all ears.

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