The New York Rangers are a team near the bottom of the league when it comes to their prospect talent. Drafting poorly in the first round of the NHL draft in years past, and recently not even having a first-round pick, has weakened the Rangers’ prospect pool, especially at the forward position. The Rangers’ farm system lacks a sure thing, meaning a player they can guarantee to be a mainstay on the team in future years and be a top six forward. This can all change, however, after Aug. 15.
Why you ask?
Well, if the clock strikes midnight and the date on the calendar reads Aug. 16 with highly rated Chicago Blackhawks‘ forward prospect out of Boston College, Kevin Hayes, not signed to a contract, Hayes becomes an unrestricted free agent. And according to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, the Rangers have showed much interest in Hayes and will be one of the finalists to try to sing him to a two-year deal worth around $800K.
While Hayes and the Blackhawks will continue to negotiate up until Aug. 16, according to reports it is becoming more and more likely that the two sides will not come to terms on a new contract.
Now the bad news is that the Rangers of course will have to battle other teams for the prized 22-year-old prospect out of Boston College who recorded 65 points in 40 games last season, but the good news is that base salary will not be the deciding factor. Because of NHL rules, the most any team can pay Hayes is less than $1 million. However, this number does not include incentives, which will be a major factor in Hayes’ decision, plus his choice of which team he likes better and wants to play for more.
The Rangers may not be able to guarantee him top-six minutes like other teams can, such as the Calgary Flames, who are also rumored to be in the Hayes’ sweepstakes all the way until the end, but the Rangers can offer him more incentives — and I just don’t mean money wise. For example, a lot of players have incentives in their contracts, like if a certain amount of goals are scored during the season by that player then he receives bonus money that does not count against the salary cap. Not only can the Rangers offer Hayes money incentives, but they can also offer him a legitimate chance to make the bottom six starting roster right out of training camp on a team that made it to the Stanley Cup Final last season. He’ll have the ability to work his way up lines, a chance to play in the biggest sports market in the United States and a chance to play with his former line mate at Boston College, that being Chris Kreider, which the Rangers are probably hoping to be the deciding factor for Hayes.
It still remains to be seen whether Hayes will be a Ranger when Aug. 16 comes around in less than a month. What I know is that if I was the GM I would just promise Hayes the works, because what do the Rangers have to lose by doing so?
Unfortunately for me, I am not the Rangers’ GM, but what I do know about the real Rangers GM Glen Sather is that if he says he has much interest in a player then that means he will try his absolute hardest to convince Hayes to put on a Rangers’ sweater for this upcoming season.