Chicago Blackhawks prospect and right wing Gavin Hayes fills the need on a number of levels. In a crowded prospect pool full of centers and defensemen, Hayes lines up on the right side, and has the propensity to bury his chances. He did it 41 times for the Ontario Hockey League’s Flint Firebirds and it didn’t go unnoticed.
Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson surely has been watching and pleased what he’s seen so far. Combine that with that with the impressive play of left wing Samuel Savoie and all of a sudden, those wings are looking pretty strong. So when asked about both, his answer was simple.
“With Gavin, he had a strong end to his draft eligible year and continued that right into his post-draft year,” Davidson said. “I’m looking forward to them taking another step.”
Davidson Sees a ‘Valuable’ Goal Scorer in Hayes
Ask Hayes about his season, and he credits his scoring with his defensive play.
“I feel like my D-zone play is pretty good, like getting the pucks out,” Hayes said. “Stuff like that, like little details like that. Not even like the scoring part, just defensively if I can play any role, I feel like I can do it.”
41 goals and 81 points later, Hayes saw a 32 point jump while finding the net 22 more times. He doubled his output in just one extra game and it puts him on the radar for a team that will slowly be bringing younger talent along to fill its young core.
Davidson sees a player who fills a very important need. While much has been talked about when it comes to how Chicago is building much of their attack around speed, goal scoring is something that can be far more difficult to find.
Enter Gavin Hayes.
“Goal scoring is a really tough skill to come by,” Davidson said. “And he’s one of those guys that has a knack for finding the back of the net and that’s very valuable.”
But ask Hayes, and he goes back to the defensive side of the game.
“I feel like getting into position defensively obviously leads offense,” Hayes said. “So those numbers are pretty good but I feel like my defensive play was pretty good this year.”
Having a forward so committed to the other side of the ice is one thing. Following it up with more goals is simply an added bonus.
Where Does Hayes See Himself within the Organization?
Davidson acknowledged that Hayes will be headed back to Flint next year to build on his great play from last season. As for Hayes, he repeats much of what many of the other Blackhawks prospects have been saying in some form or another. In other words, take one day at a time. When Chicago Hockey Now reviewed Hayes’ season back in May, it was noted that he was on the Blackhawks radar.
“I kind of just play it by ear, just play hockey, do as best as I can at these camps, do as much as I can to take as much back,” Hayes said. “Obviously I’m going back to the OHL next year. Or obviously if I make the Hawks, like we said, but I don’t know about that one. But just take as much as I can back.”
It’s one day at a time for now. But one day, Gavin Hayes may be filling the net for the Blackhawks.