Kukla's Korner Hockey
All about the curious case of Jimmy Hayes (and Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard contract updates)
by George Malik on 07/17/14 at 08:03 PM ET
This is something of a "choose-your-own adventure" entry. CBS Sports' Chris Peters and SI's Allan Muir tell the story of a Chicago Blachkawks prospect who might get away, someone who deliberately skipped the Hawks' summer development camp, and you can indulge yourself in the New York Post's Larry Brooks' reporting (which served as inspiration for said "adventure") at your leisure.
Muir explains that Blackhawks 2010 draft pick Kevin Hayes, a 6'4" Hobey Baker Award finalist, happens to be property of the Blackhawks until August 16th, when the 65-point-scorer (that's pretty dang great for NCAA Division I hockey) becomes a free agent per, "Player is your property until four months after he graduates" CBA rules, after which time he can signa 2-year entry-level deal with any team...
Kevin Hayes has the hockey world on a string.
The 22-year-old winger is coming off an excellent senior season at Boston College, where he finished second in the country in scoring (27-38-65) and was honored as a 2014 Hobey Baker finalist. He has terrific size (6-foot-4, 216 pounds, according to his BC stats), quick feet and and a knack for the net. There are scouts who feel that he can step into the NHL next season and, over time, mature into a solid top-six forward.
And unlike most players his age, he has the rare luxury of picking where he wants to make that happen.
Hayes was a 2010 first-round choice by Chicago, and the Blackhawks would love to get him into the fold. But if they can't get his name on a contract by the fast approaching Aug. 15 deadline, he becomes a free agent who will be able to sign with any team.
It's an interesting spot for the kid. Does he commit to a leading Stanley Cup contender, but one whose incredible depth diminishes his chances of earning real minutes any time soon? Or does he hold out for an organization that he can grow with, one where the opportunity exists to skate in the NHL right away?
CBS Sports' Peters speculates regarding Hayes' possible future employers, should Chicago not sign the college hockey phenom...
The Rangers certainly would be attractive due to their cap situation.
It wouldn't be a surprise to see the Bruins get involved in trying to attract the Dorchester, Mass., native to the hometown team. They also have a dire salary cap situation and need good players on cheap deals to potentially get some spot duty as early as this season. There's even been talk of first-round pick David Pastrnak pushing for a spot next year, but that may be more out of cap necessity than actual pro readiness. Bringing in the possibly more ready Hayes wouldn't force the Bruins' hand as much with their new top prospect.
The Calgary Flames also have been a popular speculative destination since they drafted and signed Hayes' good friends and former BC linemates Bill Arnold and Gaudreau. There's a really easy recruiting pitch in there as the trio was the most productive line in some years in college hockey. The Flames also have a weaker NHL roster down the wings, with not a lot in the pipeline either. That could be a match, but don't call it good just yet.
Another possibility is the Florida Panthers, which is the team Hayes' older brother Jimmy plays on. There were rumors that Jimmy's trade from the Blackhawks was at the root of Kevin's lack of desire to sign with the club. That has been refuted by the Hayes' agent, however. Florida has a litany of top end forward prospects, however, and Hayes may not be a fit for immediate playing time there as several players have been paying their dues within the organization already. Additionally, Jimmy Hayes is still unsigned as a restricted free agent and is headed to arbitration.
Odds are there will be other teams that are going to get in there and try to make a pitch. Having a big kid with power-forward potential hit the open market is attractive. Having him on a two-year entry-level deal is even more attractive.
(Frankly, every damn team in the league is going to make a pitch for Hayes)
The Blueshirts are continuing to negotiate with restricted free agents Kreider, Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard, all of whom have filed for salary arbitration and whose hearings will be held by the end of the month.
Kreider, whose hearing is scheduled for July 23, will get a two-year award that likely will fall in the range of $2.1 million-$2.5 million per season, even as the parties attempt to avoid arbitration by nailing down a two-year contract prior to the hearing.
Zuccarello, whose hearing is scheduled for July 25, and Brassard, whose hearing is set for July 28, are both eligible to become unrestricted free agents next summer. Hence, they would receive one-year awards should they actually go to arbitration.
The Rangers are attempting to negotiate long-term contracts with both that would entail “buying out” years of unrestricted free agency and thus would increase their annual cap hits over what they would command in arbitration.
Zuccarello, who would likely be in the $3.7 million-$4 million arbitration range off his club-leading 59-point season (19-40), is believed seeking a multi-year deal for at least $4.5 million per. Brassard, who would likely be in the $4.5 million-$4.75 million arbitration range off his 45-point (17-28) year, is believed to be looking for a long-term deal worth approximately $5.5 million per.
The Rangers could allow them both to go to arbitration and then attempt to sign them to contract extensions after Jan. 1. That would save cap space for this season, but could prove risky business.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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