In Part 1 of this series, I went over my list of Rangers who were “untouchable”, who if a GM asked about them would likely be told that they won’t be included in a deal. In this article, I’ll be going over my list of players that are unlikely to move but are very high in trade value.
Tier 2: Unlikely to move but high in value
Zibanejad, Kreider, Hayes, Shattenkirk
Our next tier of assets consists of Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes, and Kevin Shattenkirk. There are plenty of people who think Hayes should be moved, as he needs a new contract this summer and the Rangers are now flush with potential top-six centers.
Also, there have been several recent reports of teams having a lot of interest in the young center. Larry Brooks reported that “chances are that if the Rangers make a substantial move leading into Friday’s first round of the entry draft in Dallas, it will involve Kevin Hayes”. He says that Hayes has “attracted significant interest from around the league.”
I’m not too surprised to hear Hayes is generating a lot of interest, as he arguably had his best season last year. However, I don’t think the Rangers will trade him unless a team makes an offer that is too good to refuse. The Rangers have no reason to trade him and can easily hold onto him if there are no offers they like. The likelihood that Hayes is dealt is higher than the other players in this tier, but I don’t think the Rangers are seriously considering moving him yet.
J.T. Miller being dealt to the Lightning is a strong indicator that the Rangers highly value Hayes’ contributions and plan to be holding on to him for the near future. Even though he only finished the year with 44 points, his raw point totals are deceptive. He finished the season with the second highest 5v5 points/60 rate and P1/60 rate and performed excellently in a largely defensive role. And at only 26-years-old, Hayes is still young enough where he’ll continue to be effective once the Rangers are hopefully competing. If any team were interested, it would take a big return to pry Hayes out of New York, especially after the season he just had.
Along with Hayes, Mika Zibanejad was expected to man the other top-six center spot this year and did not disappoint. His 47 points average out to a 54-point pace over a full season and Zibanejad revolutionized the Rangers power play with his booming slap shot.
While he seems older considering he’s been in the league since he was 19, Zibanejad is only 25-years-old and fits nicely in New York’s long-term plans (actually a year younger than Hayes). While it would be great if players like like Hayes, Andersson, or Chytil could quickly step in and take over the role as the Ranger’s first line center (even ideal to have that problem), the Rangers should not be banking on that. Having Zibanejad gives them a steady number-one center who can take the pressure off the young guys while they develop and allow them to grow under less pressure against weaker competition. Zibanejad has shown that he’s capable of taking the big minutes against the opposition’s first line and has been great for the Rangers in just the two years he’s been in New York. He may not have the 70+ point potential you’d love to have in a first line center, but Zibanejad has quickly become one of the best Rangers on the team, making it near impossible that the team could afford losing him.
Lastly out of the group of forwards from this tier is Chris Kreider. Kreider isn’t a young gun anymore (as he’s already 27 years old) and it’s getting less and less likely that he’ll ever become a 40-goal scorer in the NHL. However, he’s still become a fantastic, dynamic winger that holds immense value. While older than what would be ideal, Kreider is still on the right side of 30 and is many years away from when we can start expecting to see his play decline due to age. Today he is still a first-line winger and similar to how James van Riemsdyk has been a key contributor to the Toronto Maple Leafs success after their rebuild, Kreider will hopefully continue to be valuable too.
His 37 points in 58 games put him on pace for what would have been his second 50+ point season and unlike Zibanejad, Kreider produces much more at even-strength. He has some of the best underlying numbers on the team (having the second highest xGF% and third highest CF% out of all Rangers skaters) and is one of the fastest players in the entire league. When Kreider is on his game, almost nobody can stop him, as his lightning fast speed and hard-hitting style of play makes him a force to reckon with. Add in his cheap $4.625 million cap hit for the next two seasons and there’s no way Kreider is traded soon.
All three of these forwards are immensely valuable to the Rangers and would have around similar value on the trade market. If any of Hayes, Zibanejad, or Kreider would be traded for just draft picks, if would likely need to be a very high pick, such as a top 10 draft pick. There’s also the potential for one of them to be involved in thr conventional “hockey trade”, such as the Ryan Johansen for Seth Jones deal or Max Domi for Alex Galchenyuk trade. All three of their values would likely be in the same ballpark as Jeff Skinner or Oscar Klefbom, whose names have both made it to the rumor mill lately. The Rangers trio is unlikely to be traded but if they do make it to the trading block, expect them to bring back a big return.
Finally, we have one of the Rangers most recent additions, Kevin Shattenkirk. He’d actually be a really good trade asset if it weren’t for the fact that the Rangers just signed him in free agency. Shattenkirk chose to play with the Rangers (and took a bit of a discount) because he wanted to play for his childhood team and it’s very unlikely the Rangers look to move him so soon. He’s probably just a little too old for the Rangers rebuild but Shattenkirk is still young enough at 29 to be very valuable to a team looking to win that needs a top-four offensive defenseman. While playing injured for most of the season, Shattenkirk still produced at a 40-point pace and ended the previous season with 56 points. He probably wouldn’t garner as much value as Hayes, Zibanejad, or Kreider but Shatty would still bring back a lot in a potential trade.
When he was traded as just a rental, the Washington Capitals had to give up a first and second round pick (plus prospects) to get him. Since then, Shattenkirk is now signed at a reasonable cap hit ($6.65M) for a few more seasons, giving the acquiring team certainty that they would be able to keep him for multiple seasons. However, since he left the Blues, Shattenkirk had a poor playoff run with Washington and a less than ideal season with the Rangers.
Combine that with his reputation as a poor defender and it’s a bit tougher to gauge where Shattenkirk fits on the market. If the Rangers were to trade him now, I would expect something similar to the trade Washington made to acquire him. Recency bias is a thing and I think people would weigh Shattenkirk’s play with Washington and time spent injured in New York too heavily. That and teams are also looking for a way to get a leg up in trade negotiations, and that’s not something the Rangers want to get into at this point. This is another reason why I doubt he’d be traded now, as his value is likely at the lowest it will be for quite some time. The best thing for both Shattenkirk and the Rangers is for Shattenkirk to have a bounce back season and let him play big minutes with the team.
Stats via Corsica.Hockey unless otherwise noted. Financial data via Cap Friendly unless other wise noted.