Columnist says Bruins should target Kevin Hayes

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The Chicago Blackhawks still have time to sign 2010 first-rounder Kevin Hayes to a deal, but more than a few signs point to him eventually finding a deal elsewhere once his rights expire on August 15.

Reports already pointed to the New York Rangers being interested in the big forward, but CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty believes that the Boston Bruins should keep an eye on him, too.

For Haggerty, the most obvious draw might be the potential value that the 21-year-old Boston College alum could be bring:

The most attractive part about Hayes to the Bruins, beyond being a right-winger, and size/skill: the cost. As an NCAA free agent, Hayes would still need to agree to an entry level deal, and his maximum cap hit would be a team-friendly $900,000, along with any bonus money agreed to in the contract. It would essentially be like putting one of their own homegrown rookies into the lineup with minimal cost. There’s also the chance they could have a legit NHL player, based on his first-round ability and production at Boston College.

Along with the Rangers and possibly the Bruins, Haggerty notes other potential bidders such as the Calgary Flames (exec Brian Burke is fond of NCAA talent) and Florida Panthers (employers of his brother Jimmy Hayes). Those two teams would, on paper, provide less of a challenge for Kevin Hayes to make more of an immediate NHL impact, yet the money likely being more-or-less equal could score points in favor of a potential contender like Boston.

Of course, it would be foolish to count out Chicago altogether, even if they’ve failed to sign him after drafting Hayes 24th overall in 2010. Still, as this post details, he’d likely face a tougher climb to prominent NHL minutes and opportunities in the Windy City.

It all stacks up to be an interesting situation to follow if he doesn’t sign with the Blackhawks by August 15. While we wait, we can enjoy his occasional Instagram offerings, like this adorable video in which he uses his niece … as a prop gun?

(H/T to the Score on that one.)

Awww.