New York Rangers, Mats Zuccarello
Photo by Bergen Record

Every player has a slump in their career and New York Rangers’ center Kevin Hayes is no exception, But the hate really is unnecessary.

The New York Rangers always seem to get short changed with a player who has a good rookie season, but tanks during his sophomore year.

The phenomenon is commonly known as the “sophomore slump.”

Players often have a bounce back season in their third year, and Kevin Hayes has the ability to do the same.

You cannot deny that his stats went down this year, but not by a whole lot. Hayes tallied 14 goals and 22 assists this season which isn’t far off from his 2014-15 numbers of 17 goals and 28 assists.

His faceoff numbers remained almost identical too.

Hayes won 137 faceoffs and lost 244, giving him a faceoff percentage of 36%. Last year it was 36.6%, however he won 111 more faceoffs but lost 186 more as well.

Now, a judgement shouldn’t be made about Hayes’ play as a centerman based on these stats alone as center is not his natural position.

But he can become a strong center with time, perhaps this is the year? Patience is key.

It’s obvious that he isn’t the go-to guy for a big faceoff win. Those situations were for a players like Dominic Moore or Derick Brassard.

Hayes’ Corsi wasn’t that bad this season either, having a Corsi For of 48.9%. Add that with his Relative Corsi, which was 1.0, you could say his Corsi For was 49.9%.

That isn’t bad at all, a little below average, but not bad.

If the theory of a sophomore slump isn’t enough to change your mind, then this should. Here is what Hayes looks like on the PSAM tool:hayes v. forwards 1-1.99%

In every category, Hayes far exceeds players who make anywhere between 1-1.99% of the cap.

The Rangers need to play a money conscious game, which I discussed in an earlier story about their biggest salary drains.

The Blueshirts can play a money-minded game and have quality players only if they make smart deals like the way they did with Kevin Hayes.

Here is an example of why Hayes is a good player when he is playing at top notch. This was a goal against Washington on January 9th of this year:

Now, lets breakdown the goal step-by-step, starting with Hayes leaving the box at 0:01. Next, he notices the open ice ahead of him at 0:03 and takes advantage.

Skating hard and separating himself from the Washington defender at 0:06, Hayes puts his stick on the ice ready from the pass from behind the goal line. It’s a good goal.

It’s evident that Hayes wasn’t blessed with Zuccarello’s set of wheels, however he shows athleticism on that play. He also uses his body to push away from the defender and give himself some room for the pass. All around, that was a great play.

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As he progresses as a player, hopefully as a Ranger, Hayes has serious potential to be at least a third line center, and maybe a second line center if he’s preforming extremely well.

Kevin Hayes is a restricted free agent for the 2016-17 season, and it would be in the Rangers’ best interests to keep him.

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I love watching sports, specifically teams in New York. I'll root for all New York teams, but the New York Rangers and hockey are my number one. I am an avid hockey fan and enjoy expressing my opinion on the Blueshirts, when they are playing good and bad.