On July 1st when NHL free agency began at noon every hockey fan had their eyes fixated on the NHL news ticker on the television. One of the deals that day that stole the thunder from free agents happened when the Florida Panthers shipped restricted free agent Jimmy Hayes to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Reilly Smith and the Marc Savard contract.So what did the Bruins get when they traded for Jimmy Hayes? They got a 6’6″ power forward from Dorchester, Massachusetts who played his collegiate hockey at Boston College. In his time at B.C. he was part of an Eagles squad that captured an NCAA Division 1 National Championship. A 2008 2nd round draft pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Hayes worked his way into the NHL through the Chicago Blackhawks organization that had a log jam of talent on its depth chart. Eventually he was traded to the Florida Panthers in November of 2013 with defenseman Dylan Olsen in exchange for Kris Versteeg and Philippe Lefebvre.
Once in Florida Hayes had ample opportunity to climb the depth chart and he really found his game. He had a breakout 2014-2015 season where in 72 games he put up an impressive 19 goals and 16 assists, standing out on what was an up-and-coming roster full of young developing players. And he didn’t use his size as an excuse to play reckless either, only taking a moderate amount of penalties for a player that’s physically imposing. So will all of this translate to continued success in Boston?
Looking at Jimmy Hayes game, and size, the Boston Bruins seem like a perfect fit for him. Not only is he back home playing where it all started but he brings the toughness that the Bruins really lacked on the wing last season. Which is why the player he was traded for, Reilly Smith, made for such a good deal for the Bruins. Smith has great hands and a quick release but often got lost out on the perimeter and never really had the jam to break through slumps and get to the dirty areas to bang in goals. Hayes is the opposite. His size alone will make him very formidable in those tough areas and he won’t be one to shy away from the action. He often lives parked in front of the net taking the abuse and has been rewarded with hard working goals. Also, at just 25-years-old, his new three-year, $2.3 million per year contract with the Bruins is a great low risk signing for the team and really good compensation for a player coming off a career year. The only knock on his game is that he doesn’t play with as much nasty as people may think a player of his size would. But if all goes to plan Jimmy Hayes should put up similar numbers to last season and if he does crack the 20-goal mark it would be a much added bonus and sign that last year wasn’t a one-and-done fluke and he’s developing into a true goal scoring power forward coming into the prime years of his career.