New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton announced today that the team has agreed to terms with restricted free agent forward Kevin Hayes on a one-year contract.
Hayes, 26, skated in 76 games with the Rangers this past season, registering 25 goals and 19 assists for 44 points, along with a plus-one rating and 18 penalty minutes. He established career-highs in several categories in 2017-18, including goals, even strength goals (17), power play goals (six), shorthanded goals (two), power play points (eight), shots on goal (172), average ice time (17:21), faceoff wins (562), faceoffs taken (1,112), and faceoff win percentage (50.5%), and tied his career-high in game-winning goals (four). Hayes also established a career-high in average shorthanded ice time (2:15) this past season, and he led Rangers forwards in average shorthanded ice time and total shorthanded ice time (170:22) during the season. He tied for fourth in the NHL - and led the Rangers - in times scoring the first goal of the game in 2017-18 (nine).
The 6-5, 217-pounder led the Rangers in shorthanded goals, tied for the team lead in game-winning goals and shorthanded points (two), ranked second in even strength goals, even strength points (34), takeaways (52), faceoff wins, and faceoffs taken, tied for second in goals, and ranked third in points in 2017-18. Hayes led the Rangers in goals (15) and tied for the team lead in points (25) on the road during the past season. In addition, he registered 26 points (15 goals, 11 assists) in 33 games after returning to the Rangers' lineup on January 25, 2018 following an injury, and he led the Blueshirts in goals and points from the time he returned until the end of the season. Hayes also accomplished several feats during the 2017-18 season, as he tallied at least 20 goals in a season for the first time in his career, skated in his 300th career NHL game on March 17, 2018 at St. Louis, and registered his 100th career NHL assist on March 24, 2018 vs. Buffalo.
Hayes has skated in 310 career NHL games over four seasons (2014-15 - 2017-18), all with the Rangers, registering 73 goals and 101 assists for 174 points, along with a plus-30 rating and 88 penalty minutes. He has recorded at least 40 points in three of his four NHL seasons, and he has also tallied at least 17 goals in three of his four seasons in the league. Through Hayes' first four NHL seasons, 140 of 174 points have either been a goal or the primary assist on a goal (80.5% of his points have been primary points), and 67 of his 101 career NHL assists have been primary assists. He led the NHL in shorthanded assists (six) and tied for the NHL lead in shorthanded points (seven) during the 2016-17 season, and he became the first Ranger to tally at least six shorthanded assists in one season since Mark Messier in 1996-97. Since Hayes joined the Rangers at the start of the 2014-15 season, he ranks third on the team in goals and points, and ranks fourth on the team in assists.
The Dorchester, Massachusetts native was signed by the Rangers as a free agent on August 20, 2014. He was originally selected by Chicago in the first round, 24th overall, of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.