New York Rangers fans are fixated with the idea of moving Derek Stepan when they could move a consistently underperforming center with arguably just as much trade value in Kevin Hayes.
Ever since the postseason ended, a lot of New York Rangers beat writers and fans have talked about blowing up the core of the team.
Most view the Blueshirt’s core as Henrik Lundqvist, Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh and Marc Staal, along with Rick Nash and Mats Zuccarello. They often talk about the movement of the torch to the future, Kevin Hayes, J.T. Miller, Brady Skjei, Jimmy Vesey and Pavel Buchnevich.
While obviously some of the past core group need to go for the Rangers to be successful going forward, Derek Stepan, who the fanbase has clamored to as a whipping boy of late, isn’t one of them.
And, perhaps, for good reason. Stepan didn’t perform well in the postseason this year. He tallied only two goals and four assists in 12 games en route to the team’s second round loss. People point to his large contract, which still has four more years at annual cap hit of $6.5 million left on it, as a reason to maybe pull the plug on his balding scalp and ship him out in a deal to bring in a young defenseman that the orginazation covets.
But why trade one of the best defensive centers in the league who has played in just shy of 100 playoff games, in which he has 19 goals and 30 assists, who, by the way, is only 26 years old? Especially when they have a player one year younger with 63 less playoff games under his belt and only two career playoff goals on the team with arguably the same trade value?
Kevin Hayes, not Derek Stepan, is the center that the team should be willing to move.
Purple Hayes Fading?
Hayes, despite his 6’5″ frame, doesn’t play to his size. In fact, he almost plays like he is the size of Mats Zuccarello.
For all intents and purposes, Hayes had his best statistical season of his career this past year. He notched 17 goals–tying a career high–and 32 assists–4 better than his previous career high.
But the fact of the matter is, Hayes doesn’t have anywhere near the track record that Derek Stepan has, he’s a year and a half younger than Stepan and he will be due for a big contract extension at the end of next season.
Because of his cheap contract and his offensive potential, Hayes may have the higher trade value of the two centers while also being nowhere near as good defensively. It is also worth noting that Hayes was the Rangers worst puck possession player in terms of corsi for this past year–yes, worse than Dan Girardi.
The Rangers have a good center group as we speak, and if they are looking to move a forward, moving a winger might be more ideal. But if the Rangers are debating whether they should move Stepan or Hayes, it shouldn’t even be a question. Keep the guy who (usually) performs in the clutch and ditch the one who is all talk and nothing to show for it. Yet.