Kevin Hayes is a first round talent that wasn’t drafted by the New York Rangers. Yet somehow, he ended up in their lap.
Hayes was drafted in the first round by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2010 draft with the 24th pick overall. However, the Blackhawks lost the rights to Hayes in the summer of 2014, which allowed the Rangers to sign him to an entry-level contract.
Hayes never played for the Blackhawks, and only played college hockey for Boston College. Signing Hayes was crucial for a Rangers team that hadn’t had a first round pick since 2012 when they selected Brady Skjei.
In his rookie season, Hayes burst onto the scene with 17 goals and 28 assists. Hayes regressed in his second year, scoring nine less points than he did in his rookie season.
The slump was seemingly temporary. This past season, Hayes looked like the skilled 6’5 forward that got so many people excited about him in the first place.
It helped that Hayes centered two wingers that he built instant chemistry with. The hard work of J.T. Miller, combined with the speed of Michael Grabner, helped Hayes score 17 goals and 32 assists. It’s the highest point totals in a season for Hayes’ short, but promising career.
Signing the 25 year old Hayes gives the Rangers a core piece for years to come, and it didn’t come via the draft. Hayes’ offensive game is solid, and his defensive awareness continues to progress making him a vital threat, and signing.