CALGARY, Alberta - It was an interesting trio gathered at dinner on Monday: Martin St. Louis, the future Hall of Famer, Rangers rookie Kevin Hayes and Flames rookie Johnny Gaudreau, who were teammates and best friends at Boston College.
"Johnny and Marty have the same agent and I'm constantly talking about Johnny in the locker room so all the guys give me crap about it," said Hayes, the Rangers center who was looking forward to Tuesday night's matchup between he and Gaudreau, the left wing who is opening eyes with the Flames.
"Marty said he wanted to go to dinner with us and fortunately, Marty picked up the bill," Hayes said. "If I knew, I would've gotten dessert, too."
Hayes and Gaudreau both wear No. 13, but aren't close in stature. Hayes, at 6-5, towers over Gaudreau, who is listed at 5-9, 150 pounds. But they are both impressing in their early days as pros.
"He's just a determined kid, works hard during the summer," Hayes said. "No matter what his size is, the thing that separates Johnny is that no one knows how hard he works off the ice."
Gaudreau, drafted by the Flames in 2011, was not shocked to see Hayes with the Rangers either. "It's no surprise," he said. "I played with him for three years. I'm really happy for him."
Hayes was drafted in the first round, 24th overall, by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010, but never signed a contract and became a free agent last summer. Along with the Rangers, there was plenty of interest from the Flames, and some lobbying from pals to join them.
"With Johnny and Billy [Arnold, a right wing on a line with Hayes and Gaudreau at Boston's College. Arnold also was picked by the Flames in 2010], obviously I had them talking to me every day," Hayes said, "but ultimately, I sat down with family and my agent to figure out what the best fit for me was and it felt like New York was."
Hayes said he considered the Flames, "not just because of them, it's a cool place to play. They needed some young guys in their lineup, it could've been a good fit as well, but I'm very happy with my decision."
The dinner invitation from St. Louis also worked out.
"Johnny always looked up to Marty," Hayes said. "Both are pretty small players, and pretty successful. I mean, Johnny's not at the same point as Marty, 1,000 points, but similar players, similar styles. It was cool to get them to meet. I think they both enjoyed it."
St. Louis, who had only seen highlights of Gaudreau, said size wasn't really a dinner topic. "The biggest thing I talked about was that if you want to play a long time, you have to re-invent yourself, and adjust."
As it turns out, both Hayes, a Dorchester native, and Gaudreau, who grew up as a Flyers fan in Carney's Point, New Jersey, are adjusting to their clubs. In 32 games, Gaudreau had six goals and 17 assists, second in points among rookies.
Hayes is 4-7-11 in 25 games. "He's been real good for us," coach Alain Vigneault said. "He's a young player who's been improving on a daily basis. He's got a real good skill set, good size, he uses it real smart. He's following the process."