At midnight last night, forward Kevin Hayes –Chicago’s first round pick (#24) in 2010– officially became a free agent. Hayes cited Chicago’s depth at forward as the reason why he chose free agency. He wants to play right away, and Chicago appears to be set at forward this year. The Rangers have been linked to Hayes, as they love targeting NCAA graduates without homes. Hayes would be a solid addition to a bottom-of-the-league prospect pool, injecting the Rangers with another high-end skill player who put up 27 goals and 65 points last season with BC.
The problem is that the Rangers are at 49 contracts (including John Moore, not including Ryan Graves). The max number of contracts is 50, and signing Hayes would severely limit the Rangers in trade flexibility during the year. Of course there are ways around this (trading a contract), but it’s easier said than done.
The one major concern I have with Hayes is that he shot 20% this year, his final year with BC, while on a line with Johnny Gaudreau. Gaudreau put up 36-44-80 (!) in just 40 games last year, and seemed to be the catalyst on that line. Hayes’ previous career high before this year was 7-21-28. There’s also this whole “pooping in the stairwell” thing, but he was a drunk college kid, kids do stupid things. It happens.
Hayes could land in New York, and since he’s on an ELC, he is affordable and can fit under the cap. Landing him would be awesome, but I don’t think he comes to New York.