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Hawks 2010 first-round pick Kevin Hayes becomes free agent

LAKE PLACID NY - AUGUST 08:  KevHayes #16 Team USA skates against Team Sweden Lake Placid Olympic Center August

LAKE PLACID, NY - AUGUST 08: Kevin Hayes #16 of Team USA skates against Team Sweden at the Lake Placid Olympic Center on August 8, 2011 in Lake Placid, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Kevin Hayes

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Updated: September 17, 2014 6:14AM



As expected, Kevin Hayes, the Blackhawks’ first-round draft pick (No. 24 overall) in 2010, didn’t sign with the team Friday, making him an ­unrestricted free agent. The Hawks will receive the 54th pick in the 2015 NHL draft as ­compensation.

“We offered Kevin what we believed was a generous and fair contract,” general manager Stan Bowman said in a release. “Unfortunately, he felt it was in his best interests to become a free agent. We are looking ­forward to the compensatory draft pick we are receiving.”

Hayes, a 6-3, 210-pound power forward, had 27 goals and 38 assists as a senior at Boston College last season, playing on the best line in college hockey with Johnny Gaudreau and Bill Arnold, both of whom were signed by the Flames. Neither he nor his agent, Bob Murray, has explicitly said why Hayes didn’t want to sign with the Hawks, but there are several possible reasons.

The most obvious is that Hayes is a right winger, and with Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane, Ben Smith and Kris Versteeg, among others, in his way, there’s no clear path to the NHL for Hayes, who, at 22, is considered NHL-ready.

Another possibility is he wants to follow Gaudreau and Arnold to Calgary or his brother, Jimmy, to Florida. There has been speculation that Hayes is angry with the Hawks for the way they handled Jimmy Hayes before dealing him to the ­Panthers, but a source said that’s not an issue.

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com

Twitter: @MarkLazerus



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