The Rangers are going to have a difficult decision to make in the somewhat near future regarding center Kevin Hayes, writes Larry Brooks of the New York Post. The team is off to a better than expected start to their season but they are still in rebuilding mode from a long-term perspective. At the age of 26, Hayes is young enough to be part of their core for the long haul but at the same time, the pending unrestricted free agent is one of their top trade assets that could be used to acquire more youth and potentially fill a void on their back end. For his part, Hayes acknowledged that his preference would be to remain in New York:
“I’m watching this develop, and it would be cool to be here for this rebuild. I want to be part of the future. I’m going to stay out of it, my agent will do the talking, and nothing can happen until Jan. 1 anyway, but I would love for them to talk starting that day and get a deal done.”
Hayes is currently making $5.175MM and it will take more than that for him to put pen to paper on a new deal with the Rangers. If GM Jeff Gorton decides that he wants his center to be part of the future, then he’ll be looking to get extension talks going as soon as possible. If, however, he’s viewed as expendable, then Gorton may want to make him available in a trade sooner than later given the consistent demand for impact help down the middle.
Elsewhere around the league:
- Kings center Gabriel Vilardi will be re-evaluated next week as he continues to work his way back from a back injury, notes Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider. The 2017 first-round pick is currently on non-roster injured reserve but GM Rob Blake is hopeful that the 19-year-old can be integrated into practice with the team in the near future. Once he gets the green light to play, Vilardi can play in up to nine games without burning the first year of his entry-level contract. If the team decides to cut him, he has to be sent back to Kingston of the OHL as he’s not eligible to play in the AHL.
- The Predators have placed defenseman Dan Hamhuis on injured reserve, reports Adam Vingan of The Athletic (Twitter link). He left Tuesday’s game in the second period with the undisclosed issue. There’s no timetable for when the veteran will return.