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According to multiple reports Wednesday, former Boston Bruins right-winger, Jimmy Hayes, will be attending New Jersey Devils training camp on a PTO. Hayes is coming off a career-worst season, where he tallied just five points in 58 games. Prior to 2016-17, Hayes had a couple of pretty productive seasons tallying 35 and 29 points, respectively; including 19 goals in 2014-15.
Despite the down season, there a few reasons to be optimistic about Hayes and him making the Devils out of camp.
First off, Hayes had a career-low shooting percentage of just 2.7% in 2016-17. There’s nowhere to go but up from here and considering he is a 10.3% career shooter, it’s probably a good bet that he’ll see an uptick in his goal-scoring this coming season.
A second reason would be looking at Hayes’ individual point percentage (IPP), which is a good measure to determine how a player could progress or regress. This past season, Hayes had an individual point percentage of just 29.4%. The league average for forwards is just around 68%. Considering Hayes was well off pace on both his career shooting percentage and league average for IPP, he’s probably a good bet to see an increase in his offensive output in 2017-18.
Despite the poor totals, Hayes’ five-on-five numbers were not bad in 2016-2017. He was a 51.6% possession player and was on the ice for more scoring chances for than against. Considering he wasn’t getting great minutes to begin with, that’s not too shabby. Although Hayes only averaged 0.59 points per 60 minutes this past season, he averaged 1.49 and 1.42 pts/60 in his prior two seasons and has averaged close to 27 points per 82 games for his career, all respectable numbers for a third line winger.
All-in-all, this is a good move for the Devils, and the kind of gamble they should take while rebuilding. Hayes is only 27-years old and they have a need for right wings, especially someone who can play on one of their middle-six lines. New Jersey has had success with some PTOs in recent seasons i.e. Lee Stempniak. Hayes probably won’t turn out to be as productive as Stempniak was, but his underlying numbers show there’s good reason to believe he’s capable of bouncing back in 2017-18. If Hayes can get back to scoring around 30-35 points, he’ll be a solid contributor for the Devils and add to the list of savvy, low-risk, high-reward signings by Ray Shero in his tenure as Devils GM.