Some will say yesterday’s news of top free agent prospect Kevin Hayes‘ decision to sign with the New York Rangers was not surprising at all. As a Rangers fan myself, I absolutely love the fact that Hayes is now a Ranger, but at the same time I still find his signing with the Blueshirts a bit surprising.
Let me explain.
Hayes’ reasoning for leaving and not re-signing with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team that drafted him, was because the Blackhawks could not give him any guarantee that he would play for them this upcoming season at the NHL level.
So logically teams like the Calgary Flames, which have a couple of his Boston College buddies on the roster in Johnny Gaudreau and Bill Arnold, and the Florida Panthers, which have his older brother Jimmy Hayes on the roster, seemed like the best bets to land him.
The Rangers, on the other hand, cannot really guarantee Hayes anything except a possible spot on the team’s third or fourth line if he impresses in training camp next month. The Boston Bruins, a team in practically the same boat as the Rangers, would have even made more sense because Hayes grew up in Boston and played college hockey for Boston College. However, cap issues probably prevented the Bruins from offering Hayes more than the Rangers eventually did, but Hayes could have given the Bruins a hometown discount if he really wanted to.
Bottom line is that if Hayes really wanted a guaranteed roster spot this upcoming season he would have gone to either the Flames or the Panthers. Maybe, just maybe, there was something more to the story between Hayes and the Blackhawks.