Kevin Hayes

Blackhawks address Hayes free agency, will receive 2015 second-rounder


It’s not exactly a well-kept secret that Kevin Hayes will spurn the Chicago Blackhawks and become a free agent once midnight rolls around, but the team made it official on Friday. They also shared the team’s compensation as he walks: Chicago will receive a second-round pick (54th overall) in the 2015 NHL Draft for its troubles.

Here’s a statement from GM Stan Bowman:

“We offered Kevin what we believed was a generous and fair contract. 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 and are focused on the excitement surrounding the start of training camp next month.”

The Blackhawks selected Hayes, 22, with the 24th pick in 2010, but considering the excitement surrounding next year’s draft, getting the 54th selection isn’t the worst thing that could happen. Here’s a fun way to look at it:

Granted, that excitement might have more to do with high-end talent than overall depth, but perhaps the Blackhawks could package that pick for a nice rental during the trade deadline or any other number of beneficial possibilities.

Things simply haven’t worked out between the Blackhawks and the Hayes family. Jimmy Hayes was also in Chicago’s system before being traded to the Florida Panthers as part of the package that landed Kris Versteeg.

Kevin Hayes’ rumored logic for leaving the Chicago pipeline is simple enough: many believe that he simply didn’t have the same chance to crack the starting lineup as he would in rumored destinations such as Florida, Calgary and even Boston. (The Calgary Flames gave the long version of a “no comment” when asked about their interest in Hayes, for one.)

Hayes is generally believed to be NHL-ready, and with his enticing size, he could inspire a fairly interesting bidding war. Granted, much of that entertainment is limited since he can only make so much money on an entry-level deal, but this is relatively solid drama considering how deep we are into the hockey summer.

Ducks name Kesler alternate captain

Ryan Kesler
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For the second time in his career, Ryan Kesler is wearing an “A.”

On Thursday, the Anaheim Ducks announced that Kesler would serve as one of the club’s alternate captains this season, taking over for Francois Beauchemin, who signed in Colorado this summer.

With the move, Kesler joins Anaheim’s existing leadership group of captain Ryan Getzlaf, and alternate Corey Perry.

“It’s an honor,” Kesler said, per the Ducks. “It’s special. I’m going to wear it with pride and lead by example.”

As mentioned earlier, Kesler has some experience as an alternate — he wore an “A” in Vancouver from 2008-13, but had it removed prior to the start of the ’13-14 campaign.

It’s not surprising Anaheim went in this direction. GM Bob Murray made a huge investment in Kesler this summer by inking the 31-year-old to a six-year, $41.25M extension.

Diaz could leave Rangers for Europe

Raphael Diaz, Mike Sislo
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Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?

We’ll know in a month.

Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:

The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.

The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.

If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.

Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”

And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.

While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.