The Chicago Blackhawks prospect system has just been dealt a significant blow with the reported loss of NCAA player Kevin Hayes. Reports indicate that the two sides failed to reach an agreement and as a result the 22 year-old will become a free agent.
The Blackhaws drafted Kevin Hayes 24th overall in the 2010 NHL draft and after failing to sign him by today’s deadline, he will become a free agent. A move Hayes thought to be best for his career. The Blackhawks felt like they offered the former NCAA player a fair deal but it wasn’t enough to entice him to stay with the team. Perhaps he chose to depart from the organization due to the log jam in the organization at the NHL level. Or perhaps he had his eyes set on another team all along.
Back in July, Kevin Hayes’ agent released the following statement regarding the situation, which leads one to believe the winger never had any intention to play with the Blackhawks;
"“We’re likely going to wait until Aug. 16 and see where things are at that point, It’s absolutely nothing against the Blackhawks. We just feel this gives Kevin some options.”"
While still a wild card at this point in time, the Calgary Flames appear to be the team Hayes has his eyes on right now. With two of his former Boston College teammates already in their system, some chemistry could easily be formed as the Flames dress an all Eagle line to complete the trio. Obviously now that Hayes’ contract has expired with the Blackhawks every NHL team is welcome to start the bidding on the top 10 Hobey Baker nominee. However, don’t be surprised if he ends up in Calgary with Johnny Gaudreau and Bill Arnold.
Hayes played his NCAA years with the Boston College Eagles where he recorded respectable numbers during his first three seasons. During his senior year he hit his stride finishing second in NCAA scoring with 67 points and being a top 10 nominee for the Hobey Baker award. Blackhawks fans were quite excited after seeing what Hayes was capable of doing during his senior year and now other teams will get the chance to land him. Interestingly enough, Hayes has not ruled out returning to the Blackhawks through free agency after he tests the open market. Also worth noting Jimmy Hayes, Kevin Hayes’ older brother, was a member of the Blackhawks until they traded him away to the Panthers in November.
According to the CBA rules. the Blackhawks, or any NHL team, have four years to sign a NCAA committed player given the fact he remains a college student during that time period. Due to the fact the two sides are likely to part ways at midnight on Friday, the Blackhawks will receive the 54th pick in the 2015 NHL draft as compensation.
Here is the statement from the Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman;
"“We offered Kevin what we believed was a generous and fair contract. Unfortunately, he felt it was in his best interests to become a free agent. We are looking forward to the compensatory draft pick we are receiving and are focused on the excitement surrounding the start of training camp next month.”"
Throughout his NCAA career, Hayes recorded 44 goals and 132 points in 142 games at Boston College. Many feel that like his brother, there wasn’t much room for the 6 foot 2 forward within the Blackhawks organization and in order to play outside of the fourth line, another team seemed to be the best option for both parties. The Blackhawks felt they did everything they could do to land Kevin Hayes, but from the get-go, he seemed destined for free agency.
When Saturday August the 16th comes around, former Boston College forward Kevin Hayes will no longer be under the Chicago Blackhawks and the former first round draft pick will test the free agent waters. Where will he land?