New York Rangers should trade Kevin Hayes
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Trade rumors have been swirling around the New York Rangers for a while. Kevin Hayes should be among those on the move as the trade deadline nears.

In light of a horrific few weeks for the New York Rangers, a plethora of trade rumors surfaced. Former franchise cornerstones such as Rick Nash, Mats Zuccarello, and captain Ryan McDonagh are be rumored as possible selling options at the deadline. Nick Holden and Michael Grabner are two other veteran names that have been mentioned as well.

The Rangers organization is looking to give Alain Vigneault his third core of players. With the previous two, he has failed to bring home a very attainable Stanley Cup, while consistently making bad decision after bad decision in key moments. He has shown no reason to be given another chance.

It seems that the rationale of the Rangers upper management prefers mediocrity to sustained and meaningful success. I hope management can prove this perception wrong by Monday, Feb. 26, when the NHL trade deadline arrives, but they’ve given us no reason to think they will.

Despite the baffling direction of the organization, insightful writers and media close with the Rangers have given inklings as to who could be included in a possible deal at the deadline to change the direction of the team. They were all veteran names, indicating a much-needed rebuild.

For the sake of the organization, I believe all of these aforementioned names, aside from Zuccarello, should be traded. Players like Rick Nash, Ryan McDonagh, and Michael Grabner, if traded, can retool an entire farm system. A trade that would send an excellent, but expensive, two-way forward who isn’t scoring goals, a physically worn down and underperforming defenseman and a speedy, but very inconsistent, goal scorer that can bring depth to a true cup contender would send back an incredible amount of skilled youth to the New York Rangers. Between them, a fan could realistically see a return of two very good prospects and even three first round picks to the Rangers!

To this, general manager Jeff Gorton is very capable of getting something for Nick Holden. It is incredible how much general managers in the NHL salivate over inept defensemen that are perceived as tough, rugged, and consistent.

It is likely that the Rangers probably couldn’t pull all of this off at one deadline. The offseason would be likely needed to finish the retooling process for the team. But, why should the Rangers stop at the previous list of players?

What about Kevin Hayes?

The New York Rangers, with three superb young centers in the organization, would not need Kevin Hayes in the future. Hayes, who was thrust into a second line role after the infamous trade of Derek Stepan to the Phoenix Coyotes, has not performed spectacularly all year.

Despite reasonable offensive woes, Hayes has performed well as a shutdown center this season, with a 92.3 oiSV% (on ice save percentage). He has been depended upon by the team to play at a high defensive level, as indicated by his usage in the defensive zone at 58.3 dZS% (defensive zone start percentage). Yet, the forward has been seen gliding around the ice and has not been able to fully exert himself in the offensive zone, which is frustrating to many, but understandable due to his defensive workload.

Hayes is no Pavel Datsyuk and he is no Patrice Bergeron…he is not going to carry the load on both ends of the ice at an elite level. Realistically, he is an excellent two-way, third-line center who can contribute to a playoff contender.

Mika Zibanejad as a first-line center, Filip Chytil as a second-line center and Lias Andersson as a third-line center is an excellent future look for the Rangers at the center position. It gives the team three players that can contribute as role players and future leaders for this Rangers team as centers.

Where does Kevin Hayes fit beyond this season? He certainly should not be taking a place from one of these three players. His skill level is also too high to be relegated to the fourth line. While he would likely play very well in this role, he would probably be too expensive of an option to play the fourth line center.

To trade a valuable player like Hayes is imperative. Why hold on to a player that will likely be forced out in the near future? Why not trade him now? Get a second rounder or even a high-level prospect for him that could play defense or the wing. Maybe even get more.

The Rangers, if they do commit to a full rebuild, should do it as efficiently as possible. A small rebuild probably will not help this team very much at all. Their goal should be to continue their rebuild through this upcoming draft, a draft that is elite with very good future NHLers. If done correctly, the team may even have a shot at winning before Rangers goaltending icon Henrik Lundqvist retires!

This move, while it is necessary to the rebuild, will probably not be executed. The Rangers will realistically not aspire to have two centers under 20 years old playing substantial roles because of, you know, experience and stuff. Even though the team will be in the process of rebuilding, and this would be logical to do to give these players the experience they need, the team will more than likely find a reason not to execute this move.

Kevin Hayes will not have a place on this roster very soon and should be traded while he has a chance to exhibit his talents as a depth center. With 10 goals and 8 assists in 43 games, as a shutdown center, Hayes is a very attractive player that can bring back a good haul. The Rangers should capitalize and soon.