This Chicago Blackhawks Prospect is Currently Tearing It Up at the Juniors

Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Chicago Blackhawks prospect Gavin Hayes has been on fire since he was traded from the Flint Firebirds to the Soo Greyhounds of the OHL.

The Hawks 2023 third-round draft pick just scored a ridiculous highlight-reel, game-winning game that has everyone buzzing.

Hayes had 19 goals and 17 assists with the Flint Firebirds before leaving the team to play for Team USA in the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship.

Hayes contributed two assists to Team USA’s championship run. Although, Hayes racked up 25 penalty minutes and was booted from a pool-play game for a game misconduct.

Since returning to the juniors, he has been outstanding.

Greyhounds head coach John Dean is loving having Hayes on the team. Dean admitted he underestimated Hayes’ game

“[I]had no idea how good away from the puck that Gavin is … and no idea of how good of a puck distributor that he is.”

Dean also praised Hayes for how well he is fitting in with the team’s culture. Hayes going to the Greyhounds also gives him a chance to play with this younger brother, Travis.

Hayes’ scoring binge ranks him first among Blackhawks’ prospects in points. He is second in goals scored behind Nick Lardis who is also skating in the OHL for the Brantford Bulldogs.

The Athletic (subscription required) ranked Hayes as the Blackhawks’ 10th best prospect over the summer, but that list also had Connor Bedard, Kevin Korchinski, and Lukas Reichel on it. All three are no longer considered to be prospects.

Hayes has signed his entry-level contract, but since he did not make the Blackhawks out of training camp, he had to go back to the juniors since he is still too young to play in the AHL.

He will reach the AHL minimum age requirement next season and probably start his pro career in Rockford. He is versatile forward with the skill to play on the top two lines, along with the grit and good size to play on the bottom lines.

The only thing that might keep him from being a top-six player is his skating. He skates with effort but he the reports are it might not be elite enough to be a top-line player (subscription required).

At least Hayes’ head coach has confirmed he has improved his ability to play away from the puck as that was another knock on his game when Hayes was going through the draft process.

So far, Hayes is showing that letting him fall to the third round might have been a mistake by the rest of the NHL.