Jets pick up versatile forward Kevin Hayes from Rangers

Chris Kreider

The Winnipeg Jets have made their move on the trade market to get them over the top in the playoffs. They also traded scoring winger Mats Zuccarello to the Dallas Stars over the weekend.

NY also traded defenseman Adam McQuaid to the Columbus Blue Jackets for and a fourth- and seventh-round pick in the 2019 draft and 23-year-old defenseman Julius Bergman. Lemieux is expected practice with the Rangers on Tuesday.

The Rangers now have two first-round picks for 2019, and five picks over the first two rounds. The 22-year-old has nine goals and two assists in 44 games for the Jets this season.

Hayes, 26, skated in 361 games for the Rangers over the past five seasons, registering 87 goals and 216 points.

It's also an insurance policy for the Blue Jackets since No. 1 goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has declined to sign contract extension and will be a free agent at the end of the season. If Tampa Bay wins the Stanley Cup this season, that second-round pick will become a first-round pick. No salary was retained, so the Jets took on the full prorated value remaining on the one-year, $5.175 million deal Hayes signed this past summer. As the Rangers continued to rebuild, Hayes was a boost to every teammate's possession numbers, kept a clean defensive zone, and scored at a 68 point pace while he did. Lemieux impressed with the Manitoba Moose (AHL) last season, compiling 19 goals and 24 assists in 51 games.

"I would think we're going to give him a pretty big opportunity here", Gorton said, "with some ice time and playing up in the lineup and see what he can do for us right away".

They've been thrilled with 20-year-old center Brett Howden, who was acquired in the trade with the Lightning last year.

If none of them shows much as a No. 2 center, the Rangers could re-evaluate the position in the offseason. Gorton also said NY could use some of the draft picks it has in trades for current National Hockey League players. "A lot of opportunity for our team to get better, hopefully in a relatively quick fashion".



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