Led by Tom Fitzgerald, who is Kevin Hayes uncle, and Bill Guerin who is very close to Hayes agent Robert Murray, the Penguins were awarded the opportunity to make a pitch to forward Kevin Hayes in the past couple days, Inside Pittsburgh Sports has learned, though, the team has been considered a long shot to sign Hayes. The Penguins selling point to Hayes: Immediately come in and compete for a winger spot alongside Evgeni Malkin, an NHL source says.
Scouts, though, feel Hayes best fit would be with Brandon Sutter were he to surprisingly sign with Pittsburgh.
While there are varying opinions on Hayes, Penguins officials believe he could immediately come in and play in the NHL and compete for a top-9 role. Hayes is a toolsy player who has a good combination of size and skill. He would immediately become the Penguins No. 2 forward prospect behind Kasperi Kapanen.
As the Avalanche and Bruins are among the top contenders to sign Hayes, the New York Rangers also made a very strong pitch, a source said Monday evening, have emerged as a serious suitor. The Predators and Coyotes were also awarded opportunities to make pitches. Nashville had been a team high on Hayes list prior to officially becoming a free agent but Hayes is unlikely to sign with Nashville or Arizona.
The Panthers have always been a team to keep an eye on because of Hayes brother being there but things have been rather quiet surrounding them in the past couple days.
Among the five teams to make Hayes shortlist, four of them are contenders and all tough lineups to crack. Many felt when Hayes decided not to sign with the Blackhawks, the reason was to go to an organization to play right away. However, the focus from the Hayes camp has been on the best situation that could maximize his second NHL contract.
His first contract will be an entry level two-way contract
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