Hayes, 23, goes to the Hurricanes organization after two-and-a-quarter years in the desert. An undrafted free agent, Hayes signed a two-year entry-level contract with Vegas for the 2021-22 season after spending 2020-21 on an AHL contract with Vegas’ affiliate, the Henderson Silver Knights.
The 6’3″, 218 lb defenseman made his NHL debut last season, skating in three games while injuries decimated Vegas’ blueline. Things haven’t gone too well for him in the minors this year, though, registering a lone assist through 14 games after a ten-point year in 2021-22.
His game leans on the defensive side, though, and that’s what Carolina hopes Hayes provides to their organization. Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell called Hayes “an experienced leader who knows how to play physically on the back end.”
For the Golden Knights, the trade frees up a needed contract spot. The team was previously at the 50-contract limit, preventing them from making any additions. That can be especially tricky when injuries ravage an organization’s goalie depth, a situation Vegas knows well from their first year in the league.
It’s the second time this calendar year that the Hurricanes have exchanged future considerations for assets from the Golden Knights. Carolina more famously acquired Max Pacioretty and Dylan Coghlan from the Knights in a salary-motivated transaction before this season. While future considerations are rarely ever put into play anymore, the Hurricanes are working up quite a debt of gratitude toward Vegas.