Rangers sign Hayes to reported two-year deal with $2.6M AAV

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The New York Rangers and right winger Kevin Hayes have avoided arbitration.

The Rangers announced Friday that the two sides have agreed to terms on a new contract. According to hockey analyst Aaron Ward, it’s a two-year deal with an average annual value of $2.6 million.

The two sides had an arbitration hearing scheduled for July 27.

Last season, the 24-year-old Hayes scored 14 goals and 36 points for the Rangers, but appeared in only three playoff games before New York was ousted in the first round by the championship-winning Pittsburgh Penguins.

Listed at six-foot-five-inches tall and 227 pounds, Hayes certainly brings size up front for the Rangers. But it appeared he needed the odd wake-up call from head coach Alain Vigneault at points during the regular season.

In late-December, Vigneault made Hayes a healthy scratch and then called him out for apparently not working hard enough in the eyes of the coach. Talk about trying to send a message.

A few weeks later, however, Vigneault praised Hayes for his improved play since getting parked in the press box, saying the young forward had a “better battle level” with and without the puck.

The Rangers also avoided an arbitration hearing scheduled for Friday with forward Chris Kreider, signing him to a four-year deal with an AAV of $4.625 million.