I wouldn’t normally dedicate an entire post on this platform to a prospect that has no real tangible connections to the Vancouver Canucks franchise, but there have been (substantiated) rumblings that former Chicago Blackhawks draft pick and NCAA star Kevin Hayes is going to become an unrestricted free agent after the August 15th deadline passes.
Given how popular his name has been over the past month or so as the date approaches, and the fact that it’s late-July and news is sparse around these parts these days, why not spend some time looking at the situation more closely?
To learn more about Kevin Hayes read on past the jump.
Who is he?
Hayes was a 1st round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks back in 2010, going 24th ahead of a few notable guys that have already managed to make some noise in the NHL. Essentially the gist of it is that, as an NCAA player, the Blackhawks hold his rights until 30 days after he has left university. If he doesn’t come to an agreement with them by then, he becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent (being over 20 years old already), leaving him free to negotiate with any team.
As each day goes by it seems more and more likely that Hayes and Chicago are not going to be able to compromise and that the player will be able to look elsewhere for an option he deems a better fit. Because he was a first round pick (24th overall), if he’s not signed by Chicago then Chicago will be given a compensation pick of 24th in the 2nd round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, assuming that they make a “Bona Fide Offer”.
Back to Hayes though, who’s coming off of a sparkling senior season at Boston College. He registered 27 goals and 38 assists in 40 games (1.625 PPG), putting him second amongst all NCAA players. He also averaged 3.5 shots a game (140 shots) and had a 19.2% shooting percentage while playing on a line with Johnny Gaudreau (which certainly didn’t hurt his cause). He’s an interesting case; his sudden increase in points was surely spurred by his age and favourable playing conditions, but whenever someone produces like that at that level and suddenly becomes available he’s worth considering.
Does he fit?
Here’s where things unfortunately fall apart. With the logjam the Canucks have in their bottom-6 up front, Hayes would be really need to impress in camp to earn a spot with the team heading into the season. The most likely outcome would seemingly be a trip to Utica to start the year, which is something that Hayes and his camp appear to be wary of.
Further adding to the skepticism is the fact that there have been a handful of teams reported to be seriously in the running for Hayes’ services (the Rangers, Bruins, Penguins, Avs, Panthers, and Flames), with the Canucks not being one of them.
In a perfect world the Canucks would absolutely at least make a run at Hayes, but for the time being it appears to be an unlikely fit. That being said, at least the Canucks look like they’ll be able to avoid bridesmaid status this time around; to get to that point, they’d have to get invited to the wedding in the first place!