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Rangers to pull Zuccarello and Hayes out of the lineup as trade nears

Imminent move underway?

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The New York Rangers are getting ready for a busy trade deadline as it seems that no progress has been made about a contract extension with pending unrestricted free agent forwards Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello. 

Larry Brooks of the New York Post reports that Hayes’ camp has not had any recent talks with the Rangers about a contract extension, fueling the flames that a trade is in the offing.

Brooks also believes the Rangers may soon pull Hayes and Zuccarello from their lineup as the deadline nears closer in order to ensure that both players are healthy to be traded prior to Feb. 25. 

It remains to be seen what the exact asking price for either player is, but Hayes is expected to command a higher price that may include a first-round draft pick as part of a package. The Post believes Zuccarello could be moved for a draft pick and/or a prospect.

“Nothing has changed. Everyone knows I want to stay here, but if they trade me, I can’t control that,” Zuccarello told The Post Tuesday afternoon. “I’m just trying to have the most fun I can, work as hard as I can and play the best I can to help us win games. That’s what I can control.”

Brooks points out that the Winnipeg Jets, Minnesota Wild and Carolina Hurricanes are among the teams reportedly interested in Hayes. The Jets are also believed to be keeping an eye out for pending free agent forwards Matt Duchene and Mark Stone in Ottawa.

As for Zuccarello, it has been mentioned that the Pittsburgh Penguins, Nashville Predators, Vegas Golden Knights, Calgary Flames and Boston Bruins could be in the mix for his services as we draw closer to the trade deadline.  

Hayes has posted 13 goals and 25 assists for 38 points in 46 games with the Rangers so far this season. Zuccarello has tallied nine goals and added 23 assists in 41 games so far this year. 

The Rangers are in action next on Friday night as they face off against the Sabres in Buffalo. We don't know yet if Hayes and Zuccarello will be part of the lineup for the contest.