33-year-old Micheal Haley may only have 31 career points in parts of nine NHL seasons, including just six points last year, but the veteran forward still has value around the league. The Athletic’s Rick Carpiniello writes that Haley is expected to join the New York Rangers in training camp on a professional tryout offer, returning to the team he played in nine games for in 2012-13.
Haley is one of the last of his breed. A 5’11, 205-lb. forward, Haley plays a rugged, high-intensity style that makes him an effective fourth liner and often a match-up nightmare. Haley may not play many minutes – a career 8:07 ATOI – put he makes his presence felt regardless. In fact, the gritty pivot led the NHL in penalty minutes in 2017-18; in a career-high 75 games, he spent 212 minutes in the box and just 584 minutes on the ice. A physical force in a small package, Haley’s value is not in his offense, but in his checking ability and willingness to stand up for his teammates. That value was on display again last season, as the San Jose Sharks couldn’t help but claim Haley on waivers from the Florida Panthers, bringing him back to the team he had spent the most of his career with.
However, the Sharks are committed giving more ice time to young players this season and are even turning franchise great Patrick Marleau away, so San Jose wasn’t going to be an option this time. Instead, Haley will fight for a spot on the young, up-and-coming New York Rangers. He may actually stand a good chance of landing a contract too. The Rangers are right up against the salary cap ceiling with just over $1MM in space and still have to sign RFA’s Anthony DeAngelo and Brendan Lemieux. However, the team’s youth gives them some added flexibility with more than a few waiver-exempt players who can move freely between the NHL and AHL. The team could also look to bury the likes of Matt Beleskey and Brendan Smith in the minors, clearing both cap space and roster space. If there is room to sign an additional player when all is said and done, the Rangers would be smart to invest in some muscle. New York has spent considerable money and trade and draft capital to build a talented young core and now need to protect it, especially newcomers Artemi Panarin and Kaapo Kakko. Haley is an ideal player to play the retribution role; it doesn’t take him much time to teach the opposition not to mess with his teammates.