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Top prospect Kevin Hayes elects to sign with the New York Rangers

Kevin Hayes #12 of the Boston College Eagles celebrates his goal that gave the Eagles a 1-0 lead against the Northeastern University Huskies during NCAA hockey action in the championship game of the annual Beanpot Hockey Tournament at TD Garden
Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images

It looks like the Blueshirts have found themselves a new blue chip prospect. The New York Rangers announced on Wednesday that they had signed free agent forward Kevin Hayes.

The two-way, entry-level contract is for two years. According to Cap Geek, Hayes will make $900,000 per season in base salary at the NHL level, but bonuses could increase the value to $3.75 million per season. At the AHL level, he will make $67,500 per season.

This 22-year-old Boston College product was selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round (24th overall) of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. The Blackhawks failed to sign Hayes to an entry-level contract by their exclusive rights deadline on Friday, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent. Perhaps playing a factor in Kevin’s decision not to sign with Chicago, the Blackhawks traded Hayes’ older brother Jimmy Hayes to the Florida Panthers last season.

A Hobey Baker Award nominee last season, Hayes scored 27 goals and 65 points in just 40 games as a senior. The Eagles won an NCAA Championship with Hayes in 2011.

Many teams were said to be in the hunt for Hayes, as he was limited to signing an entry-level deal that restricted the amount on the contract. Not only talented, but affordable; Hayes had his choice of suitors. He was said to have narrowed his choice to four or five teams at the beginning of this week.

Ultimately he chose to unite with his Boston College linemate during their championship run: Rangers forward Chris Kreider. The presence of Kreider, not to mention a chance to compete for a roster spot immediately, likely factored in to him signing with New York; instead of other rumored suitors such as the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche and his hometown Boston Bruins.

Listed at 6’5” and 225 pounds, Hayes provides a body big and is talented enough to help offset the loss of both Benoit Pouliot and Brian Boyle this summer to free agency. He played in the World Championships for the United States after last season, scoring two points in eight games.

The Hawks do not walk away empty-handed however, as they will receive the 24th pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft as compensation from the league. The Rangers do not have to compensate the Blackhawks in any way.