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Meet the New Guys

Toronto Maple Leafs v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

While I forgot to talk to Die by the Blade about Nathan Beaulieu, he also has not played much this season and they might not have many thoughts on him. Either way, my apologies for forgetting about him.

As for the big acquisition, Tom from Blueshirt Banter was kind enough to answer some serious and some silly questions on Kevin Hayes.

1. What should Winnipeg Jets fans expect from Kevin Hayes in terms of playing style? Is he more of a puck carrier or a dump and chase player?

Kevin Hayes is a really underrated player who the Jets are going to love. He is definitely a puck carrier, and he was one of the best in that regard on the Rangers. He led the team with a CF% of 51.06 (+6.84% Rel) and his ability to possess the puck helped him generate offense. Hayes’ GF% of 55 (+11.52% Rel) was second on the team, and he was successful at generating offense because you never knew if he was going to shoot or pass. It irritated some fans, but Hayes has the knack of waiting until the absolute last moment to make a decision, and it has resulted in some really nice setups for goals.

2. Does he play on the penalty kill and if he does, is he successful at it?

Hayes has spent 102:22 on the PK this season which is second to Mika Zibanejad (117:37) among forwards. He was one of the Rangers’ better penalty killers because he has solid situational awareness. Most penalty killers like to play it safe, but there are times where Hayes correctly will make an aggressive move to break up a play and help the Rangers’ maintain possession. Once he gets the puck he doesn’t like to simply dump it down the end, but instead, he will skate with it and try to play keep away before ultimately ditching it and going off for a line change. Since joining the Rangers during the 2014-15 season, Hayes has spent 417:55 killing penalties and leads the team with 13 points shorthanded (six goals and seven assists, all primary).

3. How are his hands in tight to the goal? The Jets have had a tough time the on the power play recently.

Hayes generally has solid hands and has scored some great breakaway goals, but when it comes to the power play he has been more of a playmaker than goal scorer. This season he’s tallied three power play goals and added eight assists. He is generally like to be near the circles looking to set someone up in front or cycle the puck back, but when he does find himself near goal he’s able to connect. One perfect example of this was in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semi Finals vs. the Washington Capitals.

Hayes is generally calm under pressure but as I said earlier, sometimes he will frustrate you waiting till the last minute, but that could work to the Jets’ favor if Patrik Laine is the one waiting to be fed the puck.

4. What will Ranger fans miss most about him?

I would say everything because it is true, but if there were one thing it would be primary point production, particularly at even strength. Since entering the league Hayes has tallied 166 points at even strength (33 of those points are secondary) which is 67th among forwards. That may not sound impressive but if you take the top 100 producers at even strength from 2014-15 to the present and sort by primary point percentage, Hayes’ 80.12 primary points percentage is 29th overall in the league. It is also worth mentioning that during this stretch Hayes skated 4,769 minutes which was the 19th fewest of eligible players. TL/DR: Hayes is a beast at even strength who has made the most of his opportunities. Had he been given more playing time there is a reason to believe he’d have more recognition for his abilities.

5. What is his nickname in New York (from the fans, not the players)?

This tweet does a good job of something things up, as Hayes really just did whatever he was asked and generally gave “god-like” performances.

All the stats I cited are from Natural Stat Trick.

As for Par Lindholm, Katya at Pension Plan Puppets wrote an extensive feature on him this off-season that should answer all your questions.