- Scott Powers, ESPN Staff Writer
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Chicago Blackhawks prospect Kevin Hayes and general manager Stan Bowman are expected to continue contract negotiations after the NHL draft and around the beginning of free agency, according to Hayes’ agent.
Hayes was selected by the Blackhawks as the No. 24 overall pick of the 2010 draft and spent the last four years playing at Boston College. He became eligible to sign with the Blackhawks after his senior season ended in April.
“The last discussion we had, we were just going to wait until the draft, maybe the beginning of free agency, let everything sort out and see where everything is,” Hayes’ agent Robert Murray of Pro-Athletes Management said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “We’re just looking at the whole situation and figuring out what’s best for Kevin.
“We’re very comfortable in our position. There’s no rush at all.”
The NHL draft will be held on Friday and Saturday and free agency begins on July 1. The Blackhawks own Hayes’ rights until Aug. 15. If he doesn’t sign with the Blackhawks, he becomes an unrestricted free agent, and the Blackhawks would be given a compensatory pick, which would be the 24th pick in the second round of the 2015 draft.
Bowman said on June 3 he was still optimistic the Blackhawks could sign Hayes.
“We said since the day he finished school we’ve been talking to him all year and all four years of college,” Bowman said on June 3. “We want to sign him. I think he just wanted to take his time and decide what’s best for him. [We're] very hopeful that he wants to be part of our group.
“I think when he sees the way that we play, his skill set is very comparable to the players that have had success here. I think it’s a great fit for Kevin. He’s 22 years old, so he’s not in that 19-year-old category. He may not be a guy who has to spend a long time developing. So that's the benefit of leaving a player in college for four years. He’s got a lot of talent.”
The Blackhawks could trade Hayes’ rights, but Murray said that wasn’t something Hayes was asking to happen.
“That would be up to them,” Murray said. “That has not been discussed.”
ESPN NHL Draft and Prospects analyst Corey Pronman ranks Hayes behind forwards Teuvo Teravainen and Ryan Hartman, and right with defenseman Adam Clendening and forwards Phillip Danault and Mark McNeill among the Blackhawks’ top prospects.
"[Hayes] could be a second-line winger as an unusually skilled player for his size possibly, but will need AHL seasoning as needs to rounds out game and improve his consistency,” Pronman said recently.