The New York Rangers continued their rebuilding effort Monday by sending center Kevin Hayes to the Winnipeg Jets for Brendan Lemieux, a first-round pick in the 2019 NHL draft and a conditional selection.
The 26-year-old Hayes, who can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, has 14 goals and 28 assists in 51 games this season. He gives the Jets depth down the middle as they try to become the first Canadian-based team to win the Stanley Cup since 1993. The conditional pick only goes to New York if Winnipeg wins the Cup this spring.
Hayes has 216 points (87 goals, 129 assists) in 361 career NHL games. The native of Dorchester, Massachusetts, has added two goals and eight assists in 34 career playoff games. Selected 24th overall by Chicago out of Boston College in 2010, Hayes never signed with Blackhawks and instead inked a free-agent deal with New York in August 2014.
Lemieux, 22, has nine goals and two assists in 44 games this season for Winnipeg. The Denver native added a goal in nine outings in 2017-18.
The move marks the second year in a row that Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has made a splash ahead of the trade deadline. Winnipeg acquired Paul Stastny from the St. Louis Blues last February as the team loaded up for a playoff run that would end with a five-game defeat to the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference final. Stastny signed with Vegas over the summer.
The Rangers earlier sent forward Mats Zuccarello to Dallas for conditional second- and third-round picks.