Kevin Hayes was drafted 24th overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks while he was playing for Noble and Greenough School in Dedham, Massachusetts. After graduating High School, Hayes went on to Boston College. His first three years weren't great, although his junior year was cut short because of a quadriceps injury, but he really broke out as a senior with 28 goals and 39 assists in 39 games.
Why is he available?
The Blackhawks were unable to sign him to an entry-level deal and their rights to him expire tonight at midnight, so Hayes will be heading to free agency. A similar situation occurred in 2012 with Justin Schultz who ultimately ended up signing with the Edmonton Oilers despite being drafted by the Anaheim Ducks.
Where would he fit on the team?
If the Arizona Coyotes were weak on the wings before Radim Vrbata signed with the Vancouver Canucks, they are definitely weak now that he is gone. The Yotes currently have B.J. Crombeen, Shane Doan, Martin Erat, and David Moss under contract at RW. In the minors, it doesn't look much better, with Jordan Szwarz and Tobias Rieder probably the most likely to be able to make the leap. It seems unlikely, but possible, that Hayes could make the Coyotes out of camp this season. Erat and Moss are in the final years of their deals, and Doan is getting older, the team is definitely in need of wingers in the future.
Haven't the Coyotes tried signing college players before?
Yes they did. The Coyotes signed Andy Miele, an excellent college player and Hobey Baker winner in 2011. However there is a big difference between the two, Miele is 5 foot 8 and weighs 175 pounds and many felt he was too small for the NHL. Kevin Hayes is 6 foot 3 and weighs 205 pounds and was drafted high. The Coyotes also signed Greg Carey, a two-time Hobey Baker finalist, this past year, however where he ends up remains to be seen.
How much would it cost to sign?
Because Hayes would be signing any entry level at the age of 22, he would be subject to a two-year, $900,000 two-way contract. The good news is, since his salary is capped, the Coyotes do not have to compete with other teams on that level. The bad news is that he pretty much has his pick of where he wants to go.
How likely is it that the Coyotes will sign him?
If the Coyotes do go after Hayes is it likely that they will be able to sign him? Honestly, probably not. Most seem to think he will end up in Calgary with his linemates from Boston College Johnny Gaudreau and Bill Arnold. The one thing in Arizona's favor may be the fact that Hayes would have a chance to make the lineup right out of camp, which is something that may not be available with a team like the Boston Bruins, another rumored favorite.