The Chicago Blackhawks have had to deal with losing college free agents to other teams before, but in the case of prospect John Hayden, Hawks fans could be getting some welcome news soon.
According to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, teams were hoping that Hayden would choose not to sign a contract with the Blackhawks and hit unrestricted free agency instead, but now they are “losing hope it will happen.”
Hayden, who plays collegiate hockey at Yale University, has been one of the team’s top scorers this season, racking up 16 goals and 12 assists in 25 games for the Bulldogs. He was a third-round pick of the Blackhawks in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, and if he isn’t signed to a contract by the time August rolls around, he would become an unrestricted free agent.
A similar situation happened during the last offseason, when Jimmy Vesey opted to become a free agent instead of signing with the Buffalo Sabres. Vesey was a rumored target of the Blackhawks during the free agent derby that followed, but he ultimately signed with the New York Rangers instead.
The Blackhawks also have had a player opt not to sign with them before, as collegiate star Kevin Hayes decided not to sign with the team after being drafted in the first round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Hayes instead signed with the Rangers during the summer of 2014, and he’s continued to play with the team ever since.
If Hayden does decide to go elsewhere, the Blackhawks would get a compensatory pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.