At the 2014 Blackhawks Convention, general manager Stan Bowman said he was remaining hopeful that 2010 first-round pick Kevin Hayes would sign with the organization sooner rather than later.
But according to Hayes' agent, he likely won't sign before the Aug. 15 deadline in order to explore free agency.
"We're likely going to wait until Aug. 16 and see where things are at that point," agent Robert Murray told ESPN's Scott Powers. "It's absolutely nothing against the Blackhawks. We just feel this gives Kevin some options.
"This has been a difficult decision for Kevin. He's identified himself with the Blackhawks. He was drafted by them. His brother [Jimmy] played for them. But after his college career, he had a chance to step back and look at everything."
Should Hayes become a free agent, the Blackhawks will be compensated with the 24th pick in the second round of the 2015 NHL Draft.
Hayes is the younger brother of Panthers forward Jimmy Hayes, who was dealt to Florida as part of the deal to acquire Kris Versteeg last season.