Chicago Blackhawks, Kevin Hayes win Kevin Hayes sweepstakes


Former Chicago Blackhawks prospect Kevin Hayes

The Chicago Blackhawks are the latest team to gain a draft pick by losing one. Over the weekend, the time period to sign 2010 1st round draft pick Kevin Hayes ended with no resolution. Therefore, Hayes is allowed to sign anywhere he wants.

Good for Hayes and good for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Kevin Hayes has every right to bet on himself. He is also allowed to do so based on the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement. Hayes is allowed as a college-bound and graduated player to either sign with the team that took the chance on drafting him, or waits out the time period allotted to sign with another team.

Kevin Hayes is now allowed to sign an entry-level contract with whomever he feels gives to the best chance to play. Winning may not be high on his list of reasons to sign with a team considering two of the favorites to sign Hayes are the Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche. Calgary appears poised for a run at the first overall draft pick in 2015 and Colorado should regress in the arguably the best division in the NHL.

While Hayes is almost guaranteed a decent contract, he is not guaranteed playing time at the NHL level immediately. That time on pro ice may also not be much or with talent that can aid his skills on the offensive end of the ice.

Calgary appears to be the best situation for Kevin Hayes as former Boston College linemates Johnny Gaudreau and Bill Arnold stand a chance of making the big club. The three combined for 90 points during BC’s 19-game unbeaten streak last season.

Hayes may not have history on his side, as other notable holdouts had a difficult time adapting to the pro game. Forwards Tyler Bozak and Blake Wheeler, defenseman Justin Schultz and goalie Jonas Gustavsson are just a few who hit rough patches (and time in the minors) before achieving varied levels of success in the NHL.

The Chicago Blackhawks will gain a compensatory pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft (54th overall) for failing to sign Kevin Hayes. There is no guarantee that Hayes would have panned out in Chicago’s deep farm system, but how could the Hawks let him walk?

Hayes wanted to play and Chicago is extremely deep at his position: right wing. As of right now, there is no way that Hayes would be better than projected 4th line right winger Ben Smith, who also dwarfs Hayes’ abilities in the defensive zone. There is the long-standing rumor that Kevin was upset with Chicago’s handling of his older brother, Jimmy. Jimmy was drafted by Chicago and toiled in the minors for years before being shipped to Florida in the deal that brought Kris Versteeg back to the west side.

Kevin appears to be ignoring the simple fact that Chicago did Jimmy a favor by trading him. The elder Hayes had his fair share of chances to crack the big club and could never consistently produce what he was asked to. Could he have deserved another chance? Sure. Big, hulking forwards are hard to come by. Jimmy couldn’t make the cut, so Chicago Blackhawks general manager did him a solid and traded him to Dale Tallon, the GM that originally drafted him. Jimmy Hayes is now expected to contribute on a young team and is earning his playing time.

But hey, according to Kevin Hayes, that’s a bad thing.

Good for Kevin Hayes to stand by his convictions, whatever they are, and good for the Chicago Blackhawks to manage their player personnel as they deem suitable.

We all get to see if Kevin made the right decision for himself, and for his sake, let’s hope he does well wherever he lands.


Jeff is a production assistant @120Sports and contributor to hockey, football, and baseball for The Sports Bank. Follow him on Twitter @skcih_ffej.

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