February 16, 2019 | 9:21am ET



Kevin Hayes, centre


The writing had been on the wall for most of the regular-season and Mats Zuccarello knew it. With the New York Rangers in a rebuild/retool mode, his future with the club was likely coming to an end.

Zuccarello’s teammate Kevin Hayes has been in a similar boat, as contract negotiations between his agent and the Rangers hadn’t gone well. The expectation leading up to the trade deadline is that he’ll be on the move.

Well, maybe not.

According to the New York Post’s Larry Brooks, Rangers GM Jeff Gorton has re-engaged contract negotiations with both Zuccarello and Hayes. The team is trying one last time to see if they can get either player locked up to new deals.

This could simply be a tactic to drive their trade prices up, but the team has expressed genuine interest in keeping both in the past.

With a significant amount of salary cap space for next season – around $25 million worth – The Post believes signing Zuccarello and Hayes would likely eat up around $12 million.

The Post suggests the Rangers could generate around $7.5 million in additional cap space if they were to buy out the contracts of Kevin Shattenkirk and Brendan Smith.

Several teams have expressed significant interest in both Hayes and Zuccarello, including the Calgary Flames, Nashville Predators, Boston Bruins, Winnipeg Jets, Dallas Stars and Vegas Golden Knights.

Both Hayes and Zuccarello remain in the top-five of TFP’s Top 30 Trade Watch List.