Rangers Trade Hayes to Jets

The New York Rangers have traded Kevin Hayes to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for a 2019 first-round pick, forward Brendan Lemieux and a conditional fourth-round draft pick. If the Jets win the Stanley Cup, the fourth-round pick is sent. If they don’t, the pick stays with the Jets.

Hayes entered the deadline as one of the most desired targets given his ability to fill a need at both top-six center and top-six wing depending on which team came calling. for the Jets, Hayes ability to fill a center role means that they now boast a top-nine center group of Mark Scheifele, Hayes and Bryan Little respectively. Few teams in the NHL can rival that type of depth.

In 51 games this season, Hayes has scored 14 goals and 42 points on a Rangers’ team that has struggled heavily throughout the year. The only players on the Rangers to record more goals and points than Hayes this season are Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider.

In his five seasons in the NHL, he’s never recorded fewer than 14 goals and has hit the 40-point mark in four of his five seasons.

Kevin Hayes - Rangers
Kevin Hayes, New York Rangers, September 27, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

As a pending unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of this season, it’s fair to say there’s some risk in acquiring Hayes at the deadline this year. Top-six centers don’t come around every day and Hayes can certainly fill that role for a number of teams around the league. His asking price will undoubtedly be high, but the Jets may be willing to secure him for the long-term rather than just a rental given their immediate needs.

The Jets have been one of the best teams in the NHL over the last two seasons and have been the best example for building a team through the draft. Over the last two seasons, however, the team has branched out and has explored big trade options around the deadline to bolster their roster for a postseason push.

Last season, the Jets would trade Erik Foley, their first-round pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft as well as a conditional fourth-round pick in 2020 to acquire Paul Stastny from the St. Louis Blues. The Jets would ultimately fall short of their Stanley Cup Final ambitions but still have one of the best and most complete rosters in the entire NHL.

Moving on from first-round picks in consecutive seasons may not seem like the typical Jets way of handling business, but with the team already building such a solid young core, the attention has shifted from building for the future to building for the present.

Rangers Collecting Assets

For the Rangers, this is another high draft pick for a team that’s made two first-round picks in each of the last two drafts after not making a first-round pick in four consecutive drafts dating back to 2013. The Rangers now own two first-round picks this season with the potential for more from the trade that sent Zuccarello to the Dallas Stars.

Brendan Lemieux Winnipeg Jets
Brendan Lemieux, Winnipeg Jets (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Rangers also acquired the 22-year-old Lemieux who’s scored nine goals and 11 points in 44 games this season. The 31st pick of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft by the Buffalo Sabres, Lemieux is now a member of his third organization. Though he hasn’t yet looked like a top-six player at the NHL level, he’s still only played in 53 NHL games to date and the Rangers evidently felt he could be a good piece for them moving forward.