2008 Prospects: Jimmy Hayes

By Simon Richard

Pat Kane (CHI) was not really known when he attended the U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp in August of 2006. So it is for Jimmy Hayes at this year’s camp. He’ll likely get more attention from the NHL scouts, the media and hockey fans as the 2008 NHL Entry Draft approaches.

Seen as a top 10 prospect

At 6’5, 210 lbs, Hayes, a native of Dorchester, Mass, is a typical power forward. "He is a sure top 10 prospect," said a NHL scout to Hockey’s Future the last day of the 2007 U.S. junior team camp in Lake Placid.

In response, Hayes said, "It is a complete honor to be recognized as this type of player but there is a long way to go before the draft, a lot of work, a lot of stuff to prove, a lot of stuff to work on."

Like Kane, Hayes is a late-born player. Born on Nov. 21, 1989, he missed the 2007 NHL draft by a couple of months and will be eligible in 2008. This will give him an opportunity to develop more. 

"I have to improve my game, to be more physical, to finish my checks. I have the size and the strength to do it, I just have to work on it. If I work hard, if I keep improving my game, hopefully I may be in the top 10," said the right winger.

A big guy with speed and agility

Hayes was a late addition to the camp. He was invited because Peter Mueller (PHO) and Bill Sweatt (CHI) could not attend the camp due to injuries. "It is exciting to be here, I skated in that rink when I was a little boy, I heard all those stories about the Miracle," said Hayes the first day of camp. "It is awesome, it is fun to play with all these remarkable players. It just shows you how hard you’ve got to work, it shows how the game can be and how good you have to be to play at this level," observed Hayes.
The big and tall young man recorded two points (1 goal, 1 assist) during the four games played against Sweden and Finland in Lake Placid. He showed tremendous speed and agility for a guy of his stature.

"He is a fast skater, he has very big and long strides, he gets around very well and has very good hands for a big man," observed the head coach of the 1994 U.S. Olympic team in Lillehammer Tim Taylor. "He is a big, strong, powerful forward with a good degree of skills. I think that he is still growing," added Taylor.

"He is a guy who really showed that he wanted to be on the team," commented the U.S. Junior team’s coach John Hynes after the last game of the 2007 camp. "He has a big body, he works hard and plays very well in a team concept. It will be interesting to see how he will progress next fall."

A mature and grounded kid linked to Tkachuk and Fitzgerald

Hockey’s Future spoke about 20 minutes with Hayes at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid. He is very articulate person and is clearly a very grounded man.

"I started to skate at the age of two or three years old with my grandfather in Massachusetts, then I entered organized hockey at five or six," he recalled.

"My role model players are Keith Tkachuk and Tommy Fitzgerald, both are my second cousins and both guys I look up to," noted Hayes. "Keith plays a similar style of game to what I play, he is a power forward trying to score goals, like I’m trying to be."

Hayes spent a few years at Noble and Greenough Prep School in Dedham, Mass. This school was built in 1866 was also the home of Sarah Parsons and Helen Resor, who played for the U.S. Olympic Women Team in Turin in 2006.

Hayes was drafted by the QMJHL Moncton Wildcats (7th round) and then by the USHL Ohio Junior Blue Jackets (first overall) in 2006. "I considered playing Junior A and talked with them but I decided to stay in the NTDP program this season and to head to Boston College next year because I think it will be better for my development," commented Hayes.

Hayes won the silver medal at the 2007 IIHF U-18 Championship in Finland. He recorded three points (1 goal, 2 assists).  "Jimmy has an unbelievable attitude, he is fierce competitor, he wants to score, he wants to be good," said Taylor about him. "He is like a sponge and as a coach, he takes in everything you say and is a quick learner."

Definitely, coaches Hynes and Taylor appreciate Hayes a lot. If he performs well over the season with the U-18 team of the NTDP program, you can bet that he will make the U-20 team and will fly to the Czech Republic in December to compete at the 2008 World Junior Championship.

"It is my goal this season to make this team, It would be a great accomplishment for me," concluded Hayes.

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