New York Rangers: Three best trade destinations for Kevin Hayes

Kevin Hayes, New York Rangers. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Kevin Hayes, New York Rangers. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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New York Rangers
Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

1. Winnipeg Jets

As mentioned above, the Nashville Predators have started making moves to bolster their playoff chances. The Winnipeg Jets only have a four-point lead over Nashville for the Central Division crown. They need to keep pace or face getting passed by.

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Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has proven that he is willing to make deals to contend. Last season he made a deadline deal for rental player Paul Stastny from the St. Louis Blues. They gave up a prospect as well as a 2018 first round pick, and 2020 fourth round pick to acquire Stastny’s service at the end of the season.

As of now, struggling veteran Brian Little is Winnipeg’s second line center. The Jets could use a boost in offensive production from that position. Kevin Hayes fits the bill.

So what is Hayes worth to Winnipeg? Gorton would love to get left wing Kristian Vesalainen from Cheveldayoff, but that isn’t going to happen. After trading this season’s first-round pick for Stastny, it’s also unlikely Winnipeg parts with another number one. I think the Rangers would be very happy with getting either forward Mason Appleton or defenseman Sami Niku in return.

There is a bigger trade to be made, however. Winnipeg could also use a scoring wing. Why not move Hayes and Zuccarello in the same deal. It makes the deadline easier for Gorton. The downside to dealing both to the same team is the combined salary of $9.675M New York’s forwards earn. To make a deal work and bring in a bigger haul the Blue Shirts might have to eat a few dollars.

I could easily see a deal along the lines of Appleton, Brandon Tanev and either Niku or a second round pick for Hayes, Zuccarello, a fourth-round pick and the all-important cash.

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No matter where Hayes goes, he will be missed.