Kevin Hayes: Come Join Us

Unless you believe the rumours that Flames President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke has had illicit and depraved sexual relationships with both the mother and father of Jimmy and Kevin Hayes, which you should not because I just made that up (though still widely unproven!), there’s fine reason to believe that by this time tomorrow, former NCAA star and pending UFA Kevin Hayes could be a member of your Calgary Flames.

(Hell, even if the Burke thing was true…I mean good intentions are good intentions, right?)

Anyway, if you’re unaware of the news, the current Blackhawks prospect is about to become not a Blackhawk by the stroke of midnight tonight (I think 10 PM mountain, but whatever, close enough). And while many teams have been linked as active suitors for the big 22 year old (The Preds, Bruins, and with his brother in Florida have all been bandied about as possible destinations), there’s reason to believe the Flames have as strong a shot as anyone, if not stronger, to land Hayes.

Who Is Kevin Hayes?

Benedict-Cumberbatch-Who-Are-You

Let’s get the biography out of the way. Kevin Hayes is a 6’3″, 205 pound, 22 year old right winger from Dorchester, Massachusetts, and if you were wondering if he possesses that sweet Boston accent, well yeah Sully, put a box a Dunkies on it, he does.

More importantly, he just completed his senior year at Boston College and is looking for a new home in the NHL after being drafted by the Blackhawks 24th overall in 2010. Our pal Ryan Lambert recently penned a pretty great Hayes primer for us a day ahead of Hayesamania, which you should absolutely read, but I’ll toss out some of the highlights here.

In his senior year at BC this past season, Hayes scored 27 goals and 65 points in 40 games, which, uh, is pretty damn good, as Boston College finished a ridiculous 16-2-2 for the year (with an admittedly disappointing quarterfinal exit in the Hockey East tournament). Hayes was also named MVP of the Beanpot (a tournament pitting the 4 Boston area colleges against each other, a truly inhumane and barbaric practice).

So is he any good? In a word, yes. The numbers are impressive in their own right, but for those who have seen him play, as Lambert has on several occasions, they don’t seem like they’d be a fluke. Here’s one of my favourite quotes:

Nearly doubling your career output in a single season usually draws out the doubters, but the numbers suggest he wasn’t lucky, and the actual game-watching suggests he wasn’t merely a product of Gaudreau. The improvement came because he realized that at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, he didn’t have to try to finesse his way around guys who were as much as three or four years older than him. That was youthful hubris; he brought so much skill to the table as a freshman, sophomore, and junior, that he thought it was all he needed to rely on.

I love that. Here’s a guy with skill for days, who used his experience in college to realize that he blend some of that imposing physical presence in with his all his other tools to make himself that much better. Think Mark Jankowski when he reaches the weight we all hope he will for his frame and also gains an ability to generate an acceptable level of offense for a first round pick. Yeah.

Why he could be a Flame

gaudreau

1. Well let’s go ahead and start with the obvious: Johnny Gaudreau and Billy Arnold. I haven’t made mention to it yet but if you’re reading this you’re no doubt aware that one of the reasons that Hayes had the incredible season he did is because he manned the right flank on the most dominant line in college hockey the world has ever seen. His linemates, of course, were Arnold and Gaudreau, the two recently inked Flames prospects who are very close to Hayes. Like, footy pajama sleepover close. Troy and Abed close.

that trio set the world on fire for BC last year. It was downright gaudy. 244 points between the three of them, in a season marked by a very obviously deserving Hobey Baker award for Gaudreau. You could argue that Gaudreau’s season was partly due to the great play of Hayes and Arnold supporting him. Conversely, you could suggest Hayes season (he did obliterate his point output by significant margins in his senior year) was a by-product of the all word play of Johnny Hockey.

Or you could reasonably conclude that they’re all terrific hockey players playing next level puck against competition that just simply could not match up.

All three of these theories could be true in part. And while it’s quite obvious that the best Hockey East defense does not stack up against the worst NHL defense, these guys were MILES ahead of the competition that it’s not impossible to think that Gaudreau and Hayes couldn’t click well together on a line in the future. Regardless of what you think of Billy Arnold’s potential as a regular NHLer (it’s dicey at best), Gaudreau is trending in the direction of a star in the making, and having some added comfort in having Hayes around is good for both of them – and the Flames.

2. He can play here. If you clicked on the Chris Kuc article above, you’ll have read that one of the reasons that Hayes is not looking to sign in Chicago – and immediately play for a Stanley Cup contender – is because there’s a rash of quality forwards he’d have to leapfrog to become an everyday NHLer on what is probably one of the best teams to be an everyday NHLer on. But there’s simply too many, especially in the RW position, and while Hayes looks pretty good, he’s not exactly overtaking Patty Kane on the depth chart anytime soon. 

To put it lightly, this is not a real concern in Calgary. Sure the prospect shelf is starting to look less bare these days, but the Hawks big club is deep (especially since they no longer have Brandon Bollig. Whatever happened t) and those are some murky waters to be navigating through right now.

Couple that with the fact that the Flames have no natural right wingers outside of David Jones and Brian McGrattan (!!!). There’s a need that desperately needs to be addressed and, if Hayes pans out the way you would expect he could, it’s very likely he’ll be donning the Flaming C within a season or two (maybe less, given that he’s already 22 and very physically mature)

3. The Flames have cash. There’s really nothing to this except to mention that the Hawks are over the cap, so to bring Hayes in, they’d need to clear out space and contracts, even if he’d only be on an entry level deal. This is not a problem for a lot of other teams who would be interested in him, but it’s ESPECIALLY not a problem for the Flames, who have more money than Brian Burke has hair. The money and contracts in Calgary right now are all quite manageable, and there are a lot of moving pieces that can be moved in or shipped out without much difficulty, a “luxury” Chicago does not have. This theoretically gets Hayes up the depth chart and into a Flames jersey that much faster. It’s a win for everyone.

Will he or won’t he?

I don’t know, what am I, a psychic?

The decision is ultimately up to him in a very short few hours here. There are perceived rumours that he has no interest playing in Calgary because of Brian Burke (obviously), but that’s because Jimmy Hayes was a Leafs pick who Burke discarded for a draft pick which he then squandered (obviously), but that’s mostly a joke invented by Hawks fans that grew longer wings than anyone imagined it could have. Even Hayes’ agent went on record and saying that it’s not an issue (that was in reference to Kevin not signing in Chicago because Stan Bowman traded Jimmy to Florida, which is the same damn thing).

If you’re natural inclination is to assume he won’t come here because it’s Calgary and we never get nice things, well that’s a strong play that is backed up by a lot of history I’d rather not re-hash right now. But look around: The Flames now boast a roster that includes Gaudreau, Sam Bennett, Sean Monahan, and an ever better TJ Brodie. There are finally some haves on this squad, and those attract more haves (see: Kevin Love and the Cleveland Cavaliers).

Teams will make their pitch, and you can assume Brad Treliving will be in there giving it the ol’ college try. New York loves signing college free agents, and his brother plays in Florida, if that means anything to you. Boston would also make sense for him seeing as he’s the hometown kid who played down the road from the Gahdens (Boston accents are my favourite), but I think if Hayes’ desire is to hit the NHL running, Calgary is the most logical place for him to start.

  • Bean-counting cowboy

    Dear Kevin Hayes,

    If you are googling yourself and have stumbled onto this article, please know we would love to have you!

    We have crappy RW depth and your shot is as good as anywhere of making this team.

    Boston is on the decline… trust me… they may promise the moon, but Calgary is the place to be.

  • No mention of his skating? It’s the one area, iirc, that he’s deficient in.

    I was all for going for Hayes a year ago, and I’m certainly not against getting another legit prospect, but I really wonder where he would fit in. The amount of forward prospects who look like definite 3rd liners with solid potential for top 6 duty is becoming quite long. Which is all the more reason I see Sven getting moved sometime this season.

    If he does sign with Calgary, I think it’s pretty much a guarantee he spends at least a year in the AHL.

    • I definitely do not believe he’s NHL ready off the hop. The point is it’s probably going to take less time for him to work his way up the deptch chart with the Flames than it would for other teams interested, definitely less time than if he stayed in Chicago.

      I don’t think his skating ability is going to deter the coaching staff from giving him a look, considering Ben Hanowski has played more than 1 NHL game.

  • BurningSensation

    Brad Treliving smiles and signs Kevin Hayes’ entry level contract with his right hand. He signs David Jones’ termination papers with the left.

    • Burnward

      Agree. I have been calling for a D. Jones buy-out since the season ended. I presume they want to maintain the cap floor hence it has happened. I can think of better ways like signing Hayes and getting Buoma signed now!!

        • SmellOfVictory

          Why is it that in every single article or post, everyone seems to forget that Hudler plays RW? I honestly don’t think he’s played LW or C in at least three years, if not more.

          • SmellOfVictory

            Well, Hudler did spend a fair amount of time with Stempniak last year. You have to think that Stempy stayed on the right side on that combination.

            Even so, it surprises me how many sites list him as a center. I don’t think he’s played a single game at C in the NHL, ever.

  • BurningSensation

    I just love the idea we might get a legit prospect/player at RW, only 22 years old, for the cost of his contract.

    If we could only make those deals every day!

  • Lober

    The only way the Flames have a chance at this guy is too offer a one way contract. Then pray!

    Question…if he does sign I believe draft choices are given to the Hawks??

  • prendrefeu

    Hayes joins Flames
    Flames fight with grit in 2014/15, kids learn the NHL ways, vets give them shelter and wisdom.
    Flames win the draft lottery.
    2015 predictions have Calgary outside of playoffs, Burke undoes his tie and stares into the camera, blinks and mutters something.
    Season starts. Calgary goes on juggernaut march.
    TSN loses their sht, ESPN struggles to realize there is a team in Calgary.
    Every team dreads the guaranteed mark in the loss column when they head into Alberta.
    1st line is downright ridiculous. (Gaudreau, Hayes, Arnold)
    2nd line is scary fast, gritty, and skillful (see Poirier, Emile, for reference), Monahan on this line
    3rd line is not even joking around
    Defense is on shut-down mode all season long, then shut-out mode in the playoffs.
    Ortio and Rambo tag-team the net.
    Flames win the Superb Owl or Stanley Cup – either one, really – in 2016.

    It’s happening.

  • SmellOfVictory

    While having a high draft position college player choose free agency (can you say Justin Schultz?) over signing with the club that made you that high pick does not happen often, this article does outline the rationale for young Mr. Hayes to do so.

    Obviously he has the dream to play in the NHL and soon. Obviously, signing with the Hawks would provide a professional opportunity, but one where the chance to play in the big leagues is well in the future, not this next season or two. In having a look around at Florida (where the sibling connection is) or Calgary (where the hockey connection is), this player is stating that he is keen on being in the show sooner rather than later.

    This player has the size and has demonstrated a touch around the net, something that any team would, should be drooling over.

    Should young Mr. Hayes make the choice to spurn the Windy City, signing with the Flames in the City on the Bow is, without question, attractive. The hockey opportunity here, to play with guys you have played with before and enjoyed success, to grow in a market that rewards success and a market that is hungry for success, is unlimited.