We’ve seen this song and dance many times in the past in any sport with a hyped, elite prospect. “This guy’s going to be a legend!” “This guy’s going to be a superstar!”
Only a select few of these hyped prospects pan out and become stars. Others just turn out to be overhyped and fade into anonymity.
This situation now faces the New York Rangers, who signed ultra-coveted prospect Kevin Hayes following his departure from the Chicago Blackhawks organization. No one is suggesting that Hayes will be the next Wayne Gretzky, nor is anyone suggesting that he will be a massive bust like Hugh Jessiman.
But for the Rangers, what they have now is hope.
Bringing Hayes aboard not only addresses a gaping hole in organizational depth, but it may also addresses the issue of forward depth on the current roster of the big club in Manhattan. If Hayes lives up to the hype and is as good as advertised, he will become a valuable asset to the Rangers overnight.
He has the talent to become a front-line forward in the NHL. If his collegiate skill level translates to the pros, imagine Hayes on the third or fourth line filling whatever lacks of the Rangers’ forward depth.
Last season with Boston College, Hayes averaged 1.62 points per game for a total of 65 points. At 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, Hayes has the size to compete at the NHL level and will help fill a glaring weakness on the Ranger roster: size and strength. The Rangers would certainly sign up for a 65-point rookie season and a physical presence on the back lines.
Hayes’ former college teammate, Chris Kreider, made a huge impact on the Rangers’ 2011-12 playoff run when called up to the big club as the hyped top-prospect in the organization. If Hayes can make a similar impact on the 2014-15 regular season, imagine how much better the Rangers will be as a team.
Only time will tell if Hayes is the real deal. If he is, pencil in the Rangers as true Stanley Cup contenders.