Larry Brooks writes that the Rangers intend to create some space down the middle so that Filip Chytil can have a shot at winning a spot in the top-six next season. (NY Post)
He notes that because of that, and where Lias Andersson would slot, the Rangers may have to make a decision on whether to trade Mika Zibanejad and then sign/keep Kevin Hayes or keep Zibanejad and trade Hayes. (NY Post)
Hayes, 26, can be a UFA next summer and is currently an RFA with arbitration rights.
Zibanejad, 25, has four-years left on his contract with a cap hit of $5.35 million.
Brooks notes that slotting Lias Andersson in on the fourth line "doesn't make much sense" and that neither does paying Hayes around $5 million to be a third-line center. (NY Post)
Adam Rotter: I think that Zibanejad has more upside as an offensive player than Hayes does but Hayes has more upside as a two-way center that can be trusted in all situations. Both have value but Zibanejad's offensive ability as well as the cost control that he has could lead to a greater return than Hayes. I don't know if this situation is as zero-sum as it seems. Chytil and/or Andersson could both very well see time in Hartford next season. There are going to be ups and downs with those guys and if the Rangers intend to compete, they not only will need to ride those out but also have other players perform. The Rangers could also sign Hayes and then move him, or Zibanejad, during the season or next offseason when the picture of who the Rangers want to move forward with may become clearer.