New York Rangers: A Hayes reunion shouldn’t happen in New York

(Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
(Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /
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Jimmy Hayes, the brother of New York Rangers forward Kevin Hayes, is currently an unrestricted free agent after playing for the Boston Bruins last season. While the 27-year-old stands tall at 6’6, the Rangers should avoid taking a chance on the right winger.

As the Rangers solidify their roster for the upcoming season, a few bargains still remain unsigned in the free agent market. One would think that the elder Hayes brother would make sense.

A player of his size and physical play would be a welcome addition to a Rangers team that could use what Hayes brings to the table. However, Boston thought the same thing when they traded for him from the Florida Panthers.

Hayes put up decent numbers during his two seasons in Florida, most notably in his last year there in the 2014-2015 season. In 72 games, Hayes scored 19 goals along with 16 assists to net 35 points that season.

It was Hayes’ first season where he played over 60 games, so one would think the best is yet to come. When Hayes became a restricted free agent later that year, the Bruins traded Reilly Smith and the contract of injured forward Marc Savard to the Panthers in exchange for Hayes.

Struggles in Boston

After inking Hayes to a three year, $6.9 million dollar contract, the upside the Bruins hoped for never panned out. Hayes never used his big body to his advantage, often getting out muscled by his opponents.

After coming off a career year in Florida, Hayes scored 13 goals and had 16 assists for 29 points in his first year with Boston. While it wasn’t bad, it still wasn’t good enough considering what the Bruins traded to get for him.

However, his follow up campaign was significantly worse. Simply put, it all came crashing down. Hayes had a miserable season, and his lack of production hurt the Bruins depth in their bottom six. In 58 games, Hayes had a total of FIVE points (two goals and three assists).

Hayes’ production was so poor that the Bruins didn’t even want to pay him the last year of his contract when he was only owed $2.6 million. Buying out Hayes freed up $1.4 million in cap space for Boston, and only cost them $567,000 this year, and  $867,00 next year.

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Why the Rangers should take a pass.

However, we’ve seen the Rangers work their magic before. They got the best out of bargain forwards like Benoit Pouliot and Viktor Stalberg, so why not Jimmy Hayes? Perhaps Jimmy would perform better on a line with his brother.

While it would be harmless to give Hayes a tryout, there’s a reason no other NHL general manager had inquired about a trade for him forcing a buyout. After one good year, Hayes completely regressed and lost all his confidence.

Hayes is also not a good fit for the Rangers style of play because he is a slow skater. The Rangers are a team that thrives on speed and quick transitions. Neither of those are strengths of his, making a rebound less likely for Hayes.

The argument can be made that, like Jimmy, Kevin Hayes isn’t a fast skater, but has played well in New York. While that is true, Kevin clearly possesses more natural skill and ability than Jimmy does, and has exceeded his points totals every year. The Rangers have other forwards who are better fits already in their system.

Conclusion

Jimmy Hayes will be lucky to find a roster spot in the NHL this year, let alone on the Rangers. Hayes will have to prove that he can be a different player than he was last year.

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His inability to go to the net and be a physical force frustrated his former coaches in Boston. If Hayes isn’t bringing that to the table, there’s no point of bringing him in. It’s time to let the young guys fly.