Colten Hayes decided that returning to Independence was his most appealing option, due in part to the fact he’ll first be going to Chicago in September.
The Missouri Mavericks on Wednesday announced they have signed Hayes to a two-way contract with their American Hockey League affiliate Chicago Wolves. The 24-year-old British Columbia native, who had the third-best plus-minus rating in the Central Hockey League last season, will start training camp with the Wolves.
“It was a decision I had to make with my family,” Hayes said by phone from Calgary, Alberta, where he resides in the offseason. “I was just weighing my options, and going back to Missouri was the best one. Signing the two-way with Chicago sweetened the deal a little.”
Last year, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Hayes got invited to the Wolves' training camp but was sent to Mavericks before the regular season.
“First (I’m going) to Chicago, and the plan obviously is to stay up there as long as I can,” Hayes said. “With the two-way I can get called up whenever and sent down whenever.”
Not that Hayes will mind too much if he goes from Chicago to Independence, as he is looking forward to playing in front of the Mavericks fans and for a former NHL player and Stanley Cup champion in new coach Richard Matvichuk.
“I’ve heard lots of great things from him and from other people coached by him,” Hayes said of Matvichuk. “People I skate with in the offseason had nothing but good things to say about him.”
In a team press release, Hayes said, “The opportunity to return to Missouri was a no-brainer for me. The city, community and fans are some of the greatest I have seen in my years of playing hockey.
“On top of the great atmosphere, having an opportunity to play for Matvichuk is a huge honor. I just hope to be able to be a sponge and learn as much as I can from him, pushing myself towards the next level, and helping to bring a championship to the Mavericks organization.”
In 75 games with the Mavericks, Hayes has recorded six goals, 24 assists and 129 penalty minutes. Last season he had five goals, 16 assists and 100 penalty minutes in 57 games, and his plus/minus rating (goals for and against his team while he was on the ice) of plus-31 led the team.
Hayes started the 2012-13 season with the Fort Wayne Komets of the ECHL. When the Komets released him, the South Carolina Stingrays claimed him but he instead signed with the CHL's Mavericks. Hayes played 18 games with the Mavs, then left to join the Stockton Thunder (ECHL) after they acquired his rights from the Stingrays. Missouri placed him on team suspension at that point and retained his CHL rights, and he rejoined the team for all of last season.
With the Mavericks, Hayes rejoins a defensive corps that so far includes returning veteran Dave Pszenyczny and Scott Langdon, who played for Matvichuk with the Allen Americans.
“Hayes is a well-rounded defenseman who can play all areas of the ice and will be vital to our power play, penalty kill and any role needed this season,” Matvichuk said in a team press release.