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Blackhawks sign top prospect John Hayden to entry level contract

2013 NHL Draft - Portraits

NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 30: John Hayden, 74th pick overall by the Chicago Blackhawks, poses for a portrait during the 2013 NHL Draft at the Prudential Center on June 30, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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The Chicago Blackhawks managed to keep one of their top prospects from becoming a free agent by signing John Hayden, the team’s third-round pick in 2013, to a two-year entry level contract on Sunday.

Had the Blackhawks not been able to come to terms on a contract with him he would have been eligible for free agency in August in the same manner that Jimmy Vesey and Kevin Hayes were in recent years.

Hayden, a four-year player at Yale, showed steady improvement during his time at the NCAA level and scored 21 goals in 33 games this season to lead the Bulldogs (nobody else scored more than 14).

According to Scott Powers of The Athletic, it is expected that Hayden will join the Blackhawks this season and use up one of those two years of his entry level deal and then be eligible for restricted free agency after next season. The Blackhawks’ willingness to do that is probably what convinced Hayden to agree to terms with the team now rather than shop his services in free agency this summer.