Just a couple of hours after signing off on Chris Kreider’s brand new four-year deal, the New York Rangers have locked up their last key restricted free agent. According to Aaron Ward, Kevin Hayes and the New York Rangers have a agreed to a two-year deal that will pay him $2.6 million annually.
The term and money fall right in line with most of us expected all along, given how the Rangers handle a majority of their RFA’s coming off of entry-level deals. With J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes both locked up on bridge deals, the Rangers now have a ton of flexibility in the short-term.
After Hayes’ deal, the Rangers have a little over $3 million remaining with their roster consisting of 14 forwards, 7 defensemen, and 2 goaltenders. With plenty of extra cap space to spare, it’s safe to assume the Rangers probably have a plan to use that via trade. The Rangers are still in desperate need of help on the backend, so maybe that use that to bring in a top-4 defenseman? At this point, it’s anyone’s guess.
In addition, by locking up all of their arbitration eligible players, the Rangers now open up a secondary buyout window. Based on a report by CapFriendly, the 48 hour buyout window will open up in 3 days, if the Rangers elect to use a buyout.