Hayes Chooses Rangers Over Reunion

No Kevin Hayes for the Calgary Flames? How could this have happened? How did the team get beat out by the New York Rangers on Wednesday for the services of the big right-winger whose standout Boston College linemates are already part of the organization?

It seemed like a no-brainer, right? With two-thirds of the top line in
the NCAA ranks last season making its debut in the Flames’ season finale
in Vancouver, where Johnny Gaudreau and Bill Arnold suited up for the
Flames days after their championship hopes ended at the Frozen Four in
the spring, it made sense to believe the hype that Hayes would seriously
consider a reunion when the inevitable happened and he became an
unrestricted free agent by rejecting the Chicago Blackhawks’ last
contract offer.

Hayes — the Blackhawks’ first-round pick in 2010 —was able to pick his NHL landing spot for an entry-level deal as a result.

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But for the Flames, one of the team’s most attractive selling points
could also have been considered its biggest shortcoming in offering
Hayes a place to play.

The former Eagles trio would look great as a line, but it almost
certainly would not be in the NHL this coming season. And regardless of
the fact they could all play different positions, when time came to
fight for a spot on the big club, he might have to beat out one or both
of his former BC teammates to grab it.

Besides, if he was picking a team based on the buddy system, wouldn’t he
have rather joined brother Jimmy Hayes in the Florida Panthers fold?

Let’s be realistic. Often lost amid the trendy hypothetical storylines
in cases like this are the facts — players want to play in the NHL as
soon as possible and will make whatever move necessary to give
themselves the best shot at doing so.

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While the Flames were definitely attracted to Hayes’ 6-foot-3 frame and
200-plus pounds, his hockey sense and skilled hands for a bigger player,
Hayes was more interested in a franchise with a history of letting the
young guys play early.

Rangers assistant general manager Jeff Gorton told NHL.com that was a
factor in his new player’s decision and pointed out that one of those
instances includes another of Hayes’ former Boston College teammates,
Chris Kreider.

“I think when Kevin was looking at the teams and he looked at the
Rangers, I think he looked at the younger players we’ve had and we’ve
inserted right into the lineup and have had success,” Gorton said. “I
think Kreider is one of those guys.”

The Flames haven’t historically allowed their newcomers to crack the
lineup. Last year’s standout rookie Sean Monahan was an exception to the
rule, and other players like Markus Granlund, Sven Baertschi and even
David Wolf or Michael Ferland might be further along in their
development than Hayes, who might need some work on his skating before
making the jump.

Even if he did come here and prove capable of cracking the roster sooner
than later, the Flames are a longshot to make the playoffs. The Rangers
are coming off a Stanley Cup Final appearance and lost roleplayers
Benoit Pouliot and Brian Boyle to free agency, also buying out Brad Richards.

There are some things familiar faces and cool storylines can’t compensate for.

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As fun as it might have been to play with his college linemates in the
pros, Hayes preferred to attempt a larger leap, straight to the NHL,

  • piscera.infada

    Frankly, I couldn’t care less that Hayes didn’t sign with the Flames. A big-bodied right-wing with a killer shot sure is tantalizing, but the kid is hardly a saviour for anyone. Watching his skating this year when I was keeping an eye on Johnny and Arnold, you realize just how raw this player actually is. Sure, he could figure it out under the right circumstances, but he’s hardly sure-fire NHL ready.

    • mattyc

      Completely agree. It would have been an asset for nothing, so there’s no reason not to pursue it, Gaudreau is a big reason he looks so good in the first place.

    • BurningSensation

      “Frankly, I couldn’t care less that Hayes didn’t sign with the Flames.”

      Funny how ‘couldn’t care less’ and ‘could care less’ mean exactly the same thing.

        • prendrefeu


          Being a native speaker I have *always* found that phrase and its variations confusing.

          “I couldn’t care less” – Does that mean that you care a lot and find it impossible to care any less than that? Does that mean you really don’t care and are at the bottom end of your caring abilities?

          “I could care less” – Does that mean you could care less, but you don’t, because you – confusing part here – just don’t care enough to care? Or does it mean you care a lot, but you could care less than that?

          • RexLibris

            Couldn’t care less implies that your give-a-shoot (insert your own variance here) meter has reached zero. You have no more care to give. If you were a care bear you would simply be a lump of empty felted fuzz lying on the floor with a big “meh” face where your tummy used to be.

            Could care less implies that perhaps, under some circumstances, a further care could be provided but that at this moment it may not necessarily be at the top of your priority list.

  • prendrefeu

    Guys… guys… guys….
    and gals, if there are any on this site…

    It’s going to be ok.
    We’re still on track to lift the Stan Lee Bowl in 2016.
    It’s happening.
    The final is going to be the Rags vs. the Flames. Much hype about the trio’s history, but it will be advantage Arnold and Gaudreau. Ortio and Rambo tag-team vs. Padquist. Gio lifts the cup. Brodie grows out some gnarly beard. Poirier does the quickest lap-around-the-rink-while-holding-the-cup-over-his-head ever in the history of the NHL. Burke slicks his hair back and smiles, then looks at the cameras as if he knew all along. Fan night includes “Sonic the Hedgehog in Retirement Mode” dolls being distributed for the kiddies.
    It’s happening.

  • RexLibris

    Hayes would have been a windfall for the Flames and it is unfortunate for the franchise that he didn’t choose Calgary.

    That being said, what this episode does is highlight the weakness of right-wing prospects in the Flames system.

    This is second only to their lack of defensive prospect depth.

    While adding Hayes essentially for free would have greatly improved their prospect depth, the importance of this potential addition ought serve only to remind management of how far they still have to go.

    • RexLibris

      I agree, except for the fact that Hayes is a Left handed shot. There are better options for the Flames. Although it would have been great to re-unite the Boston trio, no chance that he would be guaranteed ice time in Calgary. I’d rather give it to Poirier.

    • RexLibris

      You are almost bang on Rex. Hayes would have been comparable to the J Shultz signing. Oilers got a badly needed high end defensive prospect who slotted into your rotation immediately. Hayes had a very good chance of doing the same here but Flames actually do have a lot more options of moving a forward to RW as compared to Oilers filling their D rotation. But yes, Hayes would have been a very good coo for the Flames. I’m disappointed but whatever, we have lots to rebuild with right now & we are in for a very interesting year coming up. The clock must be ticking on some Cap strapped teams, is this going to go down to the final minute for trades or will the moves be all waiver wire moves?

      • RexLibris

        Yes, Schultz came to mind while reading about Hayes.

        And the addition of Schultz to the Oilers helped immensely because it gave them a young, bottom-pairing offensive defender for free. It also made other organizational issues more noticeable.

        For instance, last season when Sean Monahan had such a strong debut, it seemed to impress upon the fan base what had been lacking earlier, namely a highly-skilled young center.

        What this comes back to, in my opinion, is the current group of Flames’ prospects. They are promising and there are a number of options. It is virtually unheard of, even amongst the organizations who excel at drafting and developing, for all those prospects to become solid, never mind good, NHL players.

        Poirier, Klimchuk, Gaudreau, Baertschi, Ferland, Arnold, Granlund, Jooris, Smith, and so on. Having these prospects is better than not having them, but having taken stock of the impact that Hayes’ addition would have on the group provides important feedback on the amount of work still remaining.

  • beloch

    I’m going to enjoy some quality schadenfreude when Captain Stairwell invetably gets sent down to Hartford while Gaudreau is working towards a Calder and Arnold gets called up to the Flames.

  • piscera.infada

    I was going to weigh in on the “couldn’t care less” business as well, but I see many other fine officers of the Grammar Police are already on the scene.

    Besides, “couldn’t care less” is the correct expression. Sort of like “for all intensive purposes” (wrong) and “for all intents and purposes” (correct). Some expressions are frequently misstated. No big deal.

  • Danny Lawson

    Anyone paying attention knew Hayes was not going to sign in Calgary. He has abundantly clear that he wanted to sign with a U.S. based team.
    Best of luck with him and the Rangers.

  • BurningSensation

    Sounds like Hayes is getting bad advice from Tim Erixon. No worries because when the Flames are mighty strong and contending deep into the playoffs Hayes will be stuck on a basement dwelling Rangers team in a rebuild. Maybe he didn’t want to be upstaged by Gaudreau or Arnold or maybe he just wanted to be closer to home. It will be his loss, look at where Erixon is now. Nowhere that’s where.

  • BurningSensation

    Disappointed but not surprised at Hayes the younger not inking with the Flames. He would be one of what is now a goodly number of forward prospects that are now in the organization.

    What remains to be seen is how many of those forward prospects actually tear the brass ring from the others. We still need to have some of the promise that lies in the talents of the group rise to meet the huge opportunity that is the Flames roster.

    What we need/want is a very pleasant surprise or two. What we need/want is a throwback to the late 80s when we had back to back Calder trophy winners in Gary Suter (a 7th rounder as I recall) and Joe Nieuwendyk (a second round selection), players who absolutely were head and shoulders above not only their draft placements, but were solid performers over time. Could any of Klimchuk, Granlund, Gaudreau, be a modern day Nieuwendyk? Could Tyler Wotherspoon be a modern day Gary Suter (with the solid defensive play, not likely the scoring touch. . .)?

    We need/want some of the promise that lies in these young men to become reality. And the reality would be a couple more solid, high end performers on which the Flames can build around.

  • Avalain

    Whether he would be a good addition or not aside, I think Hayes might want to review recent history between Calgary and New York. Tim Erixxon shunned the Flames and had his rights trade to new York for assets before his contract ended. He did not last in their lineup despite the hype, and was traded to Columbus(?) shortly after. If he is as good as he thinks he is, he had a better chance of cracking the Flames line up given his position and size. But i doubt he is as good as he thinks he is.