New York Rangers center Kevin Hayes might have only gotten a one-year deal in free agency, but he sees himself as a part of the future.
In an interview with MSG Network’s John Giannone, Hayes opened up about free agency, and where he sees himself in the future.
“This is where I want to be for my whole entire career.”
Originally drafted with the 24th overall pick by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2010 NHL entry draft, Hayes decided to test the free agent market. He signed with the Blueshirts prior to the start of the 2014-15 season.
2017-18 was a career year for the 26-year-old scoring 44 points, with a career-high 25 goals. But last season was about so much more for Hayes. He finally evolved into the type of player that the Rangers thought he would after snagging him away from Chicago. His play in all three zones has drastically improved, allowing him to emerge as a legitimate number two center.
Despite having the big year in 2017-18, he and the Blueshirts had a hard time agreeing to a multi-year deal during the free agency period. Like Hayes told Giannone, all because he is on a one-year deal does not mean he’s one and done.
“believe there’s no inclination of me being trade bait or me thinking that I’m going to be out of here. I did not sign a one-year deal to go to free agency”
The thought was that with the Blueshirts in the midst of a rebuild, Hayes on a one-year deal would present the team with an option to move him before he left as an unrestricted free agent. But, Hayes does not want to be anywhere else other than the place where he started his career.
At the 2018 trade deadline, the Rangers were faced with a choice in keeping Hayes or former first-round pick J.T. Miller. They chose Hayes and that comes with the potential price tag that Hayes will bring this summer. Larry Brooks of the New York Post reported this summer that Hayes was asking for north of $5 million in his deal. With a big 2018-19, he might just be able to get that.
Hayes will not be able to sign a contract extension with the Blueshirts until Jan. 1 since he signed a one-year deal. How things shape out from here will determine whether or not Hayes can live out his dream of being a Ranger for life.