Colorado Avalanche: Examining a Possible Kevin Hayes Acquisition

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: Kevin Hayes #13 of the New York Rangers wins a face-off against Carl Soderberg #34 of the Colorado Avalanche at Madison Square Garden on February 11, 2017 in New York City. The New York Rangers won 4-2. (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: Kevin Hayes #13 of the New York Rangers wins a face-off against Carl Soderberg #34 of the Colorado Avalanche at Madison Square Garden on February 11, 2017 in New York City. The New York Rangers won 4-2. (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Colorado Avalanche look to be active in free agency. One player they’re rumored to be interested in is Kevin Hayes.

The Colorado Avalanche are going to make a splash in free agency. It may not be a big splash — yes, we’d all love to see Artemi Panarin here, but I doubt it happens — but the Avs plan to do more than dip their toe come free agency.

Colorado rarely stands pat on Free Agency Frenzy day anyway. However, during his post-season presser, GM Joe Sakic said the following about free agency:

"“We already have targeted players in mind if they become available that we’re going to want to talk to about joining our club…There are a few guys that we want to talk to if they become available. We’ll be more aggressive this year with that, but keep in mind if it doesn’t work out for the players that we want to talk to, we’re not just going to spend on anybody. We want the right players and the right fit.”"

I think it’s pretty interesting that Sakic states they plan to be “pretty aggressive this year.” His first year as GM, after the Golden Why Not Us season, he specifically targeted a couple big-name defensemen, Dmitry Orlov and Brooks Orpik. Both turned down even a chat with him.

Ironically, Orpik was later traded to Colorado as part of the Philipp Grubauer deal, and the team informed him they were just retaining his salary, not his services.

Anyway, last season, Colorado picked up veteran defenseman Ian Cole and journeyman Matt Calvert in free agency. But it sounds like Sakic has a bigger fish in mind.

In fact, according to both Avs insider Adrian Dater and Sportsnet’s Eliotte Friedman, Colorado is looking at right wing Kevin Hayes. So, let’s examine this potential free agency signing for the Avalanche.

Kevin Hayes Statistics

Position: Right wing
Age: 27
Size: 6’5″, 216 pounds
Previous Contract: 1-year standard contract, $5,175,000
2018-19 Statistics: 55 points (19 goals, 36 assists) in 71 regular-season games; 3 points (2 goals, 1 assists) in 6 playoff games

Kevin Hayes has been in the NHL for six years. In that time, he’s played 381 games, recording 229 points (92 goals, 137 assists) in that time. Last season was a career year for Hayes with his 55 points. He has scored 20+ goals once in his career — 2017-18.

In advanced stats, Hayes has been just south of neutral. Over his career, he’s gone 48 in CorsiFor% and +0.7 in Relative Corsi. Last season, he was 50.7% and +6.3 respectively.

He’s a winger, so the Colorado Avalanche shouldn’t expect him to be their answer for faceoffs. That’s just as well because his lifetime faceoff total is 45.1%. His takeaway to giveaway ratio is 234:271. On average, he blocks about 30 shots a year and lays about 50 hits.

Brief Kevin Hayes Bio

Kevin Hayes hails from Boston, MA. He was drafted 24th-overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010. However, he never played a game for them. Instead, he completed four years at Boston College — his best year was his senior year, when he earned 65 points (27 goals, 38 assists).

Because he completed four years of college, the Blackhawks’ rights to Hayes expired on August 15, 2014. He became an unrestricted free agent on August 16 and signed with the New York Rangers on August 20.

Because he was a college free agent, Hayes’ entry-level contract was just two years. When that contract expired, he signed for another two years with the Rangers. He took a slight pay cut in average annual value:

  • ELC: $900,000, $3.75 million AAV
  • Standard: $2.6 million cap and AAV

After a solid 2018-19 campaign — the year of the 25 goals — Hayes signed a one-year contract with New York, one that gave him a pay raise: $5.2 million.

Even though Hayes was well on his way to his career year with the Rangers last season, New York dealt him at the trade deadline to the Winnipeg Jets. He played 20 regular season games with the Jets, recording 13 points (5 goals, 8 assists) and 3 points (2 goals, 1 assist) in 6 playoff games.

A Few Kevin Hayes Highlights

Kevin Hayes is scouted as a “big, talented forward with a little upside.” He played most of his career in the Eastern Conference, so I haven’t watched him so much. So, let’s look at some of his highlights.

Here’s Hayes sticking the dagger in his draft team with an overtime game-winner:

Any goal against a Central Division rival is a good goal in my book.

Here’s an example of Kevin Hayes’ skating. He leads the odd-man rush and feeds the puck to teammate Kyle Connor:

Another goal against a Central Division rival, this time the Dallas Stars.

Here’s Kevin Hayes showing his one-timer skill against the Colorado Avalanche, and needless to say, I don’t approve:

Super annoying. Colorado lost the game in the shootout.

Here are the 25 goals Kevin Hayes scored to earn him that fat paycheck:

It’s hard to develop a feel for the player’s style from a few highlights. Hayes’ size definitely jumps out at me. He’s a hulker. I think he’s got some pretty good stride with those long legs, but I don’t see a ton of finesse.

Kevin Hayes and the Colorado Avalanche

More from Mile High Sticking

Part of what Joe Sakic said the team intended to do in free agency is to fill “positions we need for what we’re looking to do.”

Well, what do the Colorado Avalanche need? Secondary scoring would be a good place to start. Also, as the team gets a little smaller on the blueline, it wouldn’t hurt to get a little bigger up front.

As the team stands right now, Hayes’ 55 points would have put him fifth on the team for scoring — between Tyson Barrie and Carl Soderberg. However, on average, Hayes is more of a 45-point player — that would put him sixth on the team, between Soderberg and Alexander Kerfoot.

Nonetheless, if Kevin Hayes can maintain that production, I think he meets the secondary scoring need. And at 6-foot-5, 216 pounds, he definitely helps with some size up front.

What kind of contract will Hayes want, though? He’s 27 years old, so he’s nearing his peak if not already having reached it. That means his pinnacle is 55 points and 26 goals — not in the same season.

Naturally, Hayes will want the most money he can get. But, for a borderline top-six, he might be more interested in term.

In my opinion, he should be offered a Carl Soderberg-style of contract — five years at $4.75 a year. Are we going to regret those last couple of years when Hayes is 31, 32? Probably. But that’s a lot of Free Agency Frenzy contracts.

If Kevin Hayes goes above $5 million per year for five years, though, I think the Colorado Avalanche should take a pass.

Next. Avs Face a Nemeth Dilemma. dark

Free Agency Frenzy starts on July 1. The expectation is that the big names, like Panarin and Matt Duchene, will go first. After that, I expect to see Colorado making their modest splash.