By Jay Zawaski-
(CBS) — On Friday afternoon, the Blackhawks sent out a press release with news that many saw coming: The team was unable to agree to terms with prospect Kevin Hayes by tonight’s deadline.
The team’s first-round pick in 2010, Hayes will now be an unrestricted free agent.
There are two ways to spin this story. Those who aren’t fans of general manager Stan Bowman will call this a failure and a waste of a draft pick. Those who choose to look at the situation realistically can see exactly where Hayes and the Hawks were coming from.
In the release, Bowman is quoted as saying, “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.”
Hayes is one of the better college prospects in the game. He put up 65 points in 40 games for Boston College last season and is certainly a legitimate college prospect. However, it’s tough to see where on the Hawks roster Hayes would fit. He’s listed as a right wing — right behind Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Kris Versteeg, Ben Smith, etc. Even if he could crack the roster, his salary would likely put the already over-the-cap Blackhawks deeper in the hole, forcing a move.
There have been rumors that Hayes was upset when the Hawks dealt his brother, Jimmy, to the Florida Panthers last season. While it’s unlikely that deal was the difference between this deal getting done or not getting done, it certainly could have played a role.
It appears as if Hayes simply wants a real chance to play in the NHL next season, and who can blame him for that? His chances of making the Blackhawks roster next season would be slim. We’ll see where he ends up next season.
As compensation, the Blackhawks will received a second-round draft pick in the 2015 entry draft (54th overall).