Here begins another story of a trade; a trade meant to strengthen the Bruins with some added size, grit, and - wouldn't you know it - a little hometown spice. Jimmy Hayes, a Dorchester native and Boston College product, had spent parts of three seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks (and their AHL affiliate) before being moved to the Florida Panthers. After two years there, Boston acquired his rights as an RFA and signed him to a three-year deal worth an annual cap hit of $2.3 million, putting him in the same realm (at least, on the Bruins) as "heaht and soul" Chris Kelly ($3M) and relatively-new addition Brett Connolly ($1.025M). Worthy? At the onset of the season, Hayes was coming off a career year offensively; however, he wasn't brought in to replace the scoring of his active trade partner, Reilly Smith. Hayes was brought in for his frame (6ft 6in, 221lb) and some TBD portion of offensive depth.
Hayes produced what might ordinarily be a glowing resume for a bottom-six forward - 13G/29P in two weeks shy of a full season of work (75 GP), polished up with 204 hits on the season. Like Smith before him, Hayes had flashes of brilliance, including a stretch of games where he seemed as though he belonged on either top line as a big body with net-front presence. Throwing in a last-tenths-of-a-second hat trick gave us a little more hope for his future.
Just 8 of Hayes' 29 points were scored after the New Year. Hayes had zero points in March and April to round out a year in which depth was badly needed.
Wait, that last part wasn't the ugly?
Last year, Hayes scored 35 points and had 20 penalty minutes.
This year, Hayes scored 29 points and had 60 penalty minutes.
Half of Hayes' penalties are nearly enough to cover the Bruins' PP-to-PK opportunities differential. When he was on the ice was barely a different story. Hayes finished the season -12, lowest on the team; and with some stretches of his play where we saw his apparent inability to seal a puck to the offensive boards with another player's body despite his size, well... who knows how low it could've gone.
Hayes failed to make a meaningful impact on either of the top two lines. (So did other players.) When he was shifted down the lineup, he found a bit more comfort in the bump-and-grind role with some of the young'uns, but never found a specific address in the lineup. As a depth player in Julien's system, you must be responsible for executing the non-scoring hockey plays in order to create chances; Hayes struggled with that as well.
Here's hoping that Hayes improves (among many things) his forecheck in his second season under Julien... or else.