There is no question that the New York Rangers want to make some deals before the Feb. 25 NHL trade deadline, and one of the teams they have been heavily following of late is the Colorado Avalanche. They have had two scouts following them everywhere lately – including Colorado Eagles games.
The Rangers are a mediocre-to-poor team with a big, bloated payroll, a team that is on the hook to pay 36-year-old goalie Henrik Lundqvist $8.5 million for the next two seasons and free-agent disappointment Kevin Shattenkirk $6.65 million for the next two. They also are a team with a couple of forwards on expiring contracts who can be unrestricted free agents next year – Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello.
Of the two, Hayes is the more attractive of the two as a potential acquisition. He’s 26, while Zuccarello is 31. He’s a big center, while Zuccarello is a small winger. What do the Avs, arguably, need the most right now in their drive to the playoffs? A No. 2 center. (I said “arguably”, as Carl Soderberg has been a very good No. 2 of late).
But there is almost no chance the Avs will trade for Kevin Hayes by Feb. 25, and here’s why: The Avs are simply not going to give away top prospects or top draft picks for any short-term help this season. If Kevin Hayes had three or four years left on his contract, at his current salary ($5.175 million), they might consider moving a nice pick and/or prospect for him.