Two division rivals battling over trade for Rangers center Kevin Hayes.

Big move could have major playoff impact.

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We have an extremely interesting development in the Western Conference. 

This season in the National Hockey League I feel it's been safe to say that there has been a clear distinction between legitimate Stanley Cup Contenders and organizations that are merely what you would consider a playoff team. I believe that this will have a significant impact on the trade market and I would expect only the team's that are truly within that contender status to make big moves as they attempt to go all in for a Stanley Cup Championship in 2019. 

Two of those teams interestingly enough are the Winnipeg Jets and the Nashville Predators, two teams that currently sit in 1st and 2nd place respectively atop the NHL's Central Division. The fact that both these teams are so close to one another in the standings and are expected to meet at some point during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs only adds to the interest surrounding both of them, and even more interesting is that they both now seem to have identical plans as we head towards the 2019 National Hockey League Trade Deadline. In a recent report for Sportsnet NHL insider Nick Kypreos revealed that both the Jets and the Predators were taking a look at New York Rangers center Kevin Hayes.

From Sportsnet:

One player the Jets are interested in is New York Rangers centre Kevin Hayes, according to Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos, who added the Nashville Predators could also be in on the forward.

Hayes is set to become an unrestricted free agent following the season after signing a one-year deal last June to avoid arbitration.

The 26-year-old carries a salary cap hit of $5.175 million that he has lived up to this season.

Hayes is on pace to break his career-high point total of 49. He has 10 goals and 25 assists in 41 games played, while also being reliable defensively.

Of course only one of these teams can land the highly coveted Hayes and you can bet that both team's will be making a significant push to get him. The Jets added Paul Stastny ahead of the 2018 trade deadline at that move paid off in a major way for them at that time. The Predators are acutely aware of this and not only could they also use a boost up the middle of the ice, but adding Hayes would also prevent the rival Jets from acquiring him themselves. 

This is one trade worth keeping an eye on.