ORIGINAL: The New York Rangers appear to be one of the true finalists for college free agent Kevin Hayes, according to the Providence Journal’s Mark Divver.
Not looking good for #bruins on Kevin Hayes. I’m being told Rangers and Avs appear to have inside track.
— Mark Divver (@MarkDivver) August 20, 2014
Divver previously claimed that the Rangers were “in the thick of things” for Hayes. Hayes, 22, was the 24th overall pick of the 2010 draft by the Chicago Blackhawks.
Kevin previously went over the situation regarding Hayes and what led to him becoming a free agent. He would be a massive coup for the Rangers both in the short-term as well as for the future. This is especially important when looking at all the prospects and draft picks the Rangers have lost the last few years as they’ve built towards contender status. Hayes would instantly become a top-four prospect within the organization, and an argument could be made for him to be as high as number-two. He’s a big forward who skates decently for his size. He’s definitely a playmaking winger but can also score his fair share as well. Hayes definitely has top-six potential but would also likely be an asset as soon as this season. A 20-goal, 20-assist rookie season would not be unrealistic.
Hayes, a right winger, can only be offered the maximum entry-level contract of $925K, though there are bonuses that can be figured in. As such, teams aren’t really bidding with money like they would other free agents. Instead, Hayes is presumably going to go to a team that he feels offers the best scenery for his development. Most importantly, he’ll want a quick path the the NHL. Though some prospects like Danny Kristo and Jesper Fast are solid candidates for a spot, the Rangers still really have not confidently replaced Benoit Pouliot yet. Hayes, if signed, is probably NHL-ready right now and would be in pole position to start the season on the team’s third line.
The Avalanche are in a similar position, however. They too have a gaping hole on their third line. Unlike the Rangers, the Avalanche have an incredibly week pool of forward prospects who could push for a spot on the roster, so Hayes would likely have an easier time cracking the lineup in Colorado.
The Rangers probably have a couple of advantages, though. Hayes is a native of
Doncaster Dorchester, which is right outside Boston. Especially since he went to school in Boston as well, everything he’s lived and known has been in that area. New York, obviously, is significantly closer to his home than Colorado.
There’s also the networking connection. Chris Kreider spent two years with Hayes at Boston College and they won a national championship together in 2012. With a relatively successful start to his career with the Rangers as well as a brand-new contract, Kreider surely is doing what he can on behalf of the Rangers to lobby for Hayes to sign in New York.
Hayes is expected to make a decision within the next couple of days. Other teams rumored to be in the mix for Hayes previously have been the Calgary Flames, Florida Panthers, and Nashville Predators.
Here’s a great writeup that Puck Daddy’s Ryan Lambert did on Hayes.
Follow Me On Twitter: @Herman_NYRBlog
Email Me: AdamNYRBlog@gmail.com