Kevin Hayes, the Chicago Blackhawks' 2010 first-round draft pick, likely will not sign with the organization before the Aug. 15 deadline and become an unrestricted free agent, the forward's agent said Tuesday.
"We're likely going to wait until Aug. 16 and see where things are at that point," agent Robert Murray said. "It's absolutely nothing against the Blackhawks. We just feel this gives Kevin some options.
"This has been a difficult decision for Kevin. He's identified himself with the Blackhawks. He was drafted by them. His brother [Jimmy] played for them. But after his college career, he had a chance to step back and look at everything."
Hayes, a 22-year-old forward, was selected by the Blackhawks as the No. 24 pick of the 2010 draft, and Chicago has held his rights since then. He has been eligible to sign with the Blackhawks since completing his senior season at Boston College in April. He was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, which is given to the NCAA's top player, and finished second in the nation with 65 points last season.
Murray said Hayes used the July free-agent period to evaluate where all the NHL teams stood with their rosters. Murray said Hayes could still sign with the Blackhawks if he becomes a free agent, but Murray expects Hayes to have other teams interested in him.
A Blackhawks representative declined comment Tuesday.
Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman remained hopeful earlier this month he could still sign Hayes.
"We're still waiting," Bowman said on July 18. "Status quo from our end. We've been hopeful that they want to sign with us, and at this point, Bob Murray might be in a better position on what they're thinking. But we're hopeful that he wants to be part of our organization. But if he doesn't, then we'll move past that. But at this point, it's his choice to decide what he wants to do. We've done everything we can. We have to hope he wants to be a Blackhawk."
The Blackhawks will be compensated with the No. 24 overall pick in the second round of the 2015 NHL draft if Hayes becomes a free agent.