40+ goals. Being penciled in for the US Juniors. Gavin Hayes saw his star rise after a strong 2022-23 season with the Flint Firebirds.
Now can he continue that momentum into 2023-24?
Goal Scoring Gavin Hayes One To Keep an Eye On
Kyle Davidson said it was a great player to have in the lineup–one who could score at a high clip. Now it’s to see if it can be repeated this season. Hayes‘ production exploded last season, seeing a 22 goal increase along with a 32 point increase.
But with some of the bigger producers leaving Flint, now it’ll be Hayes the Firebirds look to add to that production from last season. His production got him on the US roster for the World Juniors Summer Showcase. It also likely gives him a good chance at the World Junior team in December–but that production needs to continue.
He also received an entry-level deal for his efforts, too.
All of it added up to good things for the future. Now, what will the season bring?
Firebirds, Blackhawks Will Seek A Repeat of 2022-23
In a position of need within the organization, Hayes represents a strength for the Blackhawks. With speed up and down the lineup–especially down the middle-Hayes can be that complimentary wing scoring timely goals. He’s not afraid to go to the tough spots of the ice, and can bury the gritty goal just as well as he can pot the pretty one.
The caveat this season will be carrying the team instead of having complimentary talent around him. The biggest hole will be Flint replacing forward Amadeus Lombardi, who put up 45 goals and 102 points on his own. Hayes returns as the top goal scorer by a mile–meaning that again, he’ll be leading the charge.
It’s almost the perfect setup for what awaits him when he arrives in Chicago: learning to lead and adjust as he is expected to be one of the main drivers. The Blackhawks, barring a massive organizational shift in thinking, will be slowly adding through 2025. It’ll be that offseason of 2025 that the first big pivot may happen–which should feature many of the prospects by then.
Hayes has time. So do the Hawks. Both just need the production to continue.
The Measured Prediction
Hayes hits the 40-goal mark again and sees a slight increase in the 85-90 point range.
Shoot the Moon Prediction
Hayes goes Alex DeBrincat on the OHL, registering over 100 points with 50 goals to boot.
Say it Ain’t So Prediction
There’s slight slippage in his goal and point total, falling to the lower 30’s while his point total is somewhere between 70 and 80.
Brennan Othmann, the 16th overall pick of the New York Rangers, dipped last season but ended up on the OHL champion Peterborough Petes team. He admitted that his stats were lower, but he attributed it to playing a more complete game that balanced the defensive and offensive aspects.
Othmann not contributing like he did a season earlier didn’t affect Hayes output. In fact, both he and Lombardi took a major step forward.
With Hayes being one of the senior members of the squad, conventional wisdom would believe that at the very least the 19-year-old will hold serve to last year’s numbers. But in the words of Davidson, he has the “knack” to find the net.
It doesn’t seem far fetched if he plays another full season that he finds the back of the net over and over again in 2023-24.