Minnesota State senior Eriah Hayes has signed a contract with the San Jose Sharks, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie. The deal is reportedly a two-way, two-year deal, and because Hayes turns 25 in July, it is not an entry-level deal.
Hayes showed flashes of NHL-caliber talent in his first three seasons in Mankato, but struggled to show it consistently. It wasn't until his senior season, under a new head coach in Mike Hastings, that Hayes really began to blossom. He scored a career-high 20 goals, including 13 goals on the power play, and greatly improved the discipline that he played with. Hayes is a 6'4" 210 lbs. power forward that plays the right wing, and has pretty good athleticism for a player of his size.
His journey to signing an NHL contract is a pretty remarkable one. He was one of the state of Minnesota's leading scorers coming out of high school hockey playing for tiny LaCrescent in the extreme southeastern corner of the state, but drew very little attention because the level of competition in that area of the state is almost non-existent. Post-high school, he moved on to the North American Hockey League for a year, before earning an opportunity in the United States Hockey League, and eventually a scholarship to Minnesota State. After three difficult seasons with the Mavericks, Hayes played a key role in helping lead MSU to arguably the best season in school history, and earning a third-team All-WCHA selection.
Hayes will report to the Sharks AHL affiliate in Worcester tomorrow, and likely play the rest of the season there.