Kevin Hayes was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks with the 24th overall pick of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
Despite being a first-round pick, Hayes, a Dorchester, Massachusetts native, decided to stick to his roots and attend Boston College and continue his development at one of the most historic hockey universities in the country.
Taking the college route as a drafted NHL prospect is not a rare site to see, especially when it comes to American-born players. The Predator’s own Craig Smith was drafted by Nashville in 2009 and took his talents to his home state university, the University of Wisconsin. Colin Wilson, Eric Nystrom and Matt Cullen (all American born players) took the same steps in their development process to become the NHL caliber players they are today.
Interestingly enough, the Blackhawk’s interest in their top draft pick possibly seems to have dropped over the span of Hayes’ four years spent at Boston College, with reports saying that the Blackhawks will most likely not sign him to a contract; or is it the other way around?
The Blackhawks’ vice-president and general manger Stan Bowman has expressed his thoughts on the six-foot, three-inch forward via The Daily Herald with words from Pro Hockey Talk; “Status quo from our end. We’ve been hopeful that they want to sign with us, and at this point (agent) Bob Murray might be in a better position on what they’re thinking, but we’re hopeful that he wants to be part of our organization.”
With the desire expressed by Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman to have Kevin Hayes as a part of the Blackhawk’s organization one could assume that maybe Kevin Hayes sees himself as a player that wants to make an impact in the NHL as quick as possible. Maybe Hayes wants a higher dollar-figure on his contract, probably not the case, but possibly.
I think Hayes, like every other young NHL prospect, wants to be a player in the NHL as soon as possible. The young forward tallied 65 points in his senior season at Boston College (27 goals and 38 assists) and has seemed to have developed very well in his four years at Boston College.
With that being said, I think it’s safe to say that Hayes has probably watched a few Chicago Blackhawks games in his day and realizes that they are very talented in the forwards category. The 22-year-old may see that his talents could be exposed at the the higher NHL level, and much quicker, with another organization.
You can’t blame anyone who wants to play at the NHL level as soon as possible; every player ever drafted immediately wants to put on that NHL jersey and take the ice. Hayes, in my opinion, sees himself as a player that has done “his time” in a development viewpoint with his time at Boston College; not wanting to go through possible multiple seasons at the AHL levels hoping for the phone to ring for a call-up.
Now Predators fans are thinking, “Oh, well why would the Predators go after a guy that could be thinking like this when we have tons of talent throughout the system?” It’s a very simple answer; you can never have enough talent, especially on a team that has not seen the playoffs in the past two seasons.
Throwing Hayes into a system that seems to have tremendous talent and competitiveness with the likes of Filip Forsberg, Calle Jarnkrok, Brendan Leipsic and Miikka Salomaki up-front does nothing but help Hayes in his development and also the other players fighting for a spot on the Predators roster.
The most interesting aspect to the Hayes and Chicago drama is Hayes decided not to join fellow Blackhawk prospects at their team development camp. All signs seem to be pointing towards the Blackhawks wanting Hayes to be a part of their camp that concluded a few days ago, but Hayes decided not to pursue the opportunity. Hayes has been to a total of four Chicago development camps since being drafted by the Blackhawks in 2010.
It is safe to say that Hayes and his agent Robert Murray seemed to think giving up their spot, at a development camp Hayes has been a part of four times, could send a message to Blackhawk’s management as both parties seem to be in a limbo as it comes down to contract negotiations. Hayes could very well be asking himself why Chicago hasn’t offered the exact entry-level contract him and his agent are asking for. I think that is one of the bigger problems in this whole situation and a main contributor as to why Hayes decided not to pursue this years development camp.
According to Hayes’ agent, Chicago could still very well be Hayes’ landing spot. It just seems like Chicago is toying with negotiations a touch too long with a definitive contract to ink Kevin Hayes; surfacing the question of will they get Hayes’ signature on an entry-level deal, or not. We sha’ll see.
So, do the Predators take a long, hard look at Kevin Hayes and try and acquire him as a free-agent if Chicago lets his rights slip through their fingers, or do they keep a little bit more money in the bank and let another NHL team acquire one of the top forwards in NCAA Hockey last season?
If I’m Nashville’s general manager, I call Kevin Hayes’ agent as soon as he becomes a free-agent at 11:59 p.m. on August the 15th.