John Buccigross, for some reason via TSN’s Ray Ferraro’s twitter feed, has also reported this. As is College Hockey News’ Mike McMahon. The Rangers were previously believed to be a finalist for Hayes along with the Colorado Avalanche.
It’s hard to put into words how massive of a haul this is for the Rangers. Hayes, 22, is not a blue-chip prospect, but he is one with top-six potential and is already very close to said potential. In essence, the Rangers just scooped up a first-round caliber player at no cost (except an entry-level contract). With all the prospects and draft picks the Rangers have been moving recently, this is a big pickup to boost the prospect pool.
More immediately, Hayes is now the clear favorite to replace the hole left by Benoit Pouliot. The Rangers failed to sign anyone who could legitimately step up into that role during free agency, and so they were prepared to go into training camp and let Danny Kristo, Jesper Fast, and Oscar Lindberg fight for that roster spot. Hayes could very well be more polished than Kristo, and is a more natural scorer than Fast or Lindberg. He won’t be guaranteed anything, but he it should be his to lose. I can’t imagine the Rangers would have been able to sign him without promising him anything less.
I talked a bit about Hayes in my previously linked article, and here is a quality scouting report from Puck Daddy’s Ryan Lambert.
Though I would have wanted to watch a bit more of him before making any official decisions, Kevin Hayes would have easily cracked the top-five in my prospect rankings and likely would have been third, behind only Brady Skjei and J.T. Miller.
New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the team has agreed to terms with free agent forward Kevin Hayes.
Hayes, 22, skated in 40 games with the Boston College Eagles of Hockey East (NCAA) this past season, registering 27 goals and 38 assists for 65 points, along with 16 penalty minutes and a plus-34 rating. Hayes was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in collegiate hockey, and he was named to the NCAA East First All-American Team and Hockey East’s First All-Star Team. He established collegiate career-highs in goals, assists, points, plus/minus rating, power play goals (six), and game-winning goals (six). Hayes ranked second in the nation in points, third in plus/minus rating, fourth in assists, and fifth in goals. He finished second on Boston College in goals, points, game-winning goals, and shots on goal (140), tied for second in power play goals, and ranked third in assists and plus/minus rating.
The 6-5, 225-pounder tallied a career-high, 12-game point streak from November 29 vs. Holy Cross to January 25 at Penn State (13 goals, 14 assists over the span). He registered his first career hat trick and recorded a single-game career-high with five points on January 18 vs. Maine. Hayes finished the season with five consecutive multi-point games, including a four-point effort (two goals, two assists) in the Northeast Regional Semifinal vs. Denver on March 29.
Hayes skated in 142 career collegiate games over four seasons with Boston College, registering 44 goals and 88 assists for 132 points. He ranks 28th on Boston College’s all-time assists list and 42nd on the school’s all-time points list. During Hayes’ four-year tenure with the Eagles, the team won the Hockey East Championship twice, and won the National Championship in 2011-12.
The Dorchester, Massachusetts native has also represented Team USA on several occasions. Most recently, Hayes tallied two points (one goal, one assist) in eight games at the 2014 IIHF World Championship in Minsk, Belarus.
Hayes was originally selected by Chicago in the first round, 24th overall, of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.