The Chicago Blackhawks are about to lose a perfectly good prospect. Kevin Hayes enjoyed a strong season at Boston College in 2013-14, and won't sign before the deadline, making him a free agent. 'Hawks GM Stan Bowman issued a statement on the team website this afternoon:
“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.”
Per the National Hockey League’s Collective Bargaining Agreement Article 8.3(b), the Blackhawks will receive a second-round pick (54th overall) in the 2015 NHL Draft.
It's a bad deal for Chicago. That 2nd round pick probably won't help much before the end of the decade. Losing Hayes hurts their depth, and their future. Why would Hayes leave Chicago for another, lesser team?
Probably playing time. I was speaking to Ryan Batty of Copper & Blue today on the Lowdown, and he pointed out the real value of becoming a free agent the Hayes (and Justin Schultz) way: the basic contracts are all the same, but the bonuses come from playing a lot and hitting agreed upon markers. The case with Schultz turned him into an immediate regular, and in the case of Hayes looking for a team with holes up front makes sense.
We looked at Hayes here. That article quoted Brian Costello of the Hockey News and his suggestion that Florida (Hayes' brother is in the organization), Boston (Hayes is from there and the Bruins are weak on RW) and Calgary (he could reunite the Hayes-Johnny Gaudreau-Bill Arnold line that combined for 77 goals and 198 points in 40 games in 2013-14 for BC). In recent days, we've also heard Colorado mentioned a few times.
I think it will be Calgary. Why? A great deal of ice time, a chance to break into the league with familiar faces. He has to show up in camp and play well, but let's face it the Flames RW depth chart isn't exactly the 1985 Oilers.
I'm betting Calgary.