Analysis: Jets net key center for 2nd year in-a-row at deadline

Last season, the Winnipeg Jets added Paul Stastny from the St. Louis Blues for their deep run into the 2018 Western Conference Finals.

Though things came up short in five games to the Vegas Golden Knights– who would go on to sign Stastny in free agency– the Jets are ready to go at it again and push further.

This season, Winnipeg has acquired Kevin Hayes from the New York Rangers in exchange for Brendan Lemieux, a 2019 1st round pick and a conditional 2022 4th round pick.

The Jets’ 2019 1st round pick in the trade is Top-3 lottery protected on the off chance Winnipeg skids off the runway to the postseason over the next month. If that happens, the Rangers will receive Winnipeg’s 2020 1st round pick instead.

If the Jets win the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, then New York will receive Winnipeg’s 2022 4th round pick.

Hayes, 26, is a native of Dorchester, Massachusetts and has 14 goals and 28 assists (42 points) in 51 games this season for the Rangers. Hs has 87-129–216 totals in 361 career games with New York and was originally drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 1st round (24th overall) of the 2010 NHL Draft.

As with last season’s acquisition of Stastny, Hayes adds to the strength down the middle for Winnipeg’s top-six forwards, likely suiting up on the second line with Kyle Connor and Nikolaj Ehlers.

Hayes is a pending-UFA at season’s end with a cap hit of $5.175 million.

Lemieux, 22, has nine goals and two assists (11 points) in 44 games with the Jets this season and currently leads NHL rookies in penalty minutes with 64.

Originally drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2nd round (31st overall) of the 2014 NHL Draft, Lemieux made his NHL debut with the Jets on Oct. 20, 2017 after previously being dealt to Winnipeg on Feb. 11, 2015 as part of the Sabres/Jets Tyler MyersEvander Kane trade.

In 53 career games, Lemieux has 10-2–12 totals with a plus-12 rating and 85 penalty minutes. He is a pending-RFA at the end of the season.

New York currently has five picks in the first two rounds of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.

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