At this point in his hockey career Zack Hayes is probably used to being overlooked. A 9th round pick in the WHL bantam draft, Hayes played 272 games over five seasons with the Prince Albert Raiders. Despite being eligible multiple times, Hayes went undrafted in the NHL Draft.
In 2019, he was invited to participate in Development Camp with the Anaheim Ducks where he actually played in a game against Golden Knights prospects. That camp came and went, and he remained unsigned as he returned to Price Albert.
Then, finally, on April 6th, 2020 Hayes was offered his first professional contract, an AHL deal with the Silver Knights. He worked his way into a three-year entry level deal with Vegas and as recently as this preseason appeared to be on track to be one of the first defensemen called up if/when the Golden Knights needed one.
That time came quickly for Vegas, needing a D-man in the fifth game of the season. The selection was Daniil Miromanov, not Zack Hayes. As the season wore on, the Golden Knights needed player after player but they called up Kaedan Korczak, Brayden Pachal, and Derrick Pouliot, and still not Hayes.
It had to start feeling like his time would never come.
Then, out of nowhere, it did.
I was just sitting on the bus waiting, getting comfortable for the five hour bus trip to San Diego. I knew Miro(manov), Paul (Cotter) and Ronny (Rondbjerg) got called up so they were driving to the airport right away and all of a sudden Andrew Doty (HSK video coach) comes on the bus and he’s like ‘you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go get your stuff right now.’ -Hayes
So, Hayes rushed off the bus, grabbed his gear from the team trailer, and waited outside of Lifeguard Arena, the Silver Knights’ practice facility, for his ride to take him to the airport.