Jimmy Hayes' NHL debut came on one of the biggest stages possible. No, it wasnt a playoff game, but the Blackhawks regular-season game against division rival Detroit certainly had that feel.And while Hayes didnt log a ton of minutes, coach Joel Quenneville liked what he saw from the rookie when he was on the ice.He had a great first shift and he still had presence, Quenneville said after the Blackhawks 3-2 victory over Detroit on Friday night. He had good physicality, strength with the puck and he was dangerous around the net. He didnt play a ton but it was a good first game for him.Hayes played about eight and a half minutes, recording two shots on goal, a blocked shot and four hits, tied for team best with Daniel Carcillo. Playing with Jamal Mayers and Andrew Brunette on the fourth line, the group had scoring opportunities early. Hayes himself clanged one off the post.The 6-foot-6, 221-pound Hayes is the latest Blackhawks prospect to have a chance with the big team. But unlike the past few seasons when the Blackhawks were doing the Rockford shuffle due to money constraints, now theyre doing it to see what their farm team has to offer.And why shouldnt they look at their options? They have plenty of them, mainly among the forward ranks. Some have asked if its hurting the young players development. No, it isnt. Their development is still mainly with Rockford, not with the Blackhawks. Not yet, anyway.So far, none of the prospects have latched on for a long ride in Chicago. Part of that is because of the Blackhawks depth and health: theyve both been good. In some cases, the kids just arent ready for the big stage.How long will Hayes stay? If he keeps building on his debut game, it could be for a little bit. With Hayes here, the Blackhawks have 23 on the roster and can stay that way as long as they want no salary-cap, shuffle-inducing problems here anymore.Hayes is the latest to get the opportunity, one he called a dream come true when he arrived earlier this week. What he does with it is up to him.
From June 10-20, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile one top prospect per day — 11 total — leading up to the 2019 NHL Draft as the Blackhawks prepare to pick third overall.
Position: Left wing
Weight: 192 pounds
Scouting report from Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley:
"Big winger, great shot, highly skilled. I think what he brings is size, the shot, and he has a deceptively good two-way game."
NHL player comparable: David Pastrnak
Fit for Blackhawks:
The Blackhawks are likely leaning toward drafting a center or defenseman with the No. 3 overall pick, but Boldy is an intriguing prospect because he’s drawn comparisons to Marian Hossa. And that’s a player the team has missed over the last two seasons.
Boldy is one of the most complete players in this draft class, and already has the size to play in the NHL. He’s a great skater, responsible in his own end, can play in any situation and can really play any style. Boldy might be a year away from making the jump to the pros, but he's going to be a player the you never have to worry about on the left side.
One of the Blackhawks’ priorities this summer is to add pieces that will help shore up the defensive part of their game after they gave up the second-most goals in the NHL last season. And they didn’t waste much time doing it.
Less than a week before the 2019 NHL Draft, the Blackhawks announced Saturday that they have acquired defenseman Olli Maatta from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for forward Dominik Kahun and a 2019 fifth-round pick.
Maatta is 24 years old, carries a left-handed shot and is a two-time Stanley Cup champion. But he battled injuries last season and fell out of favor in Pittsburgh, where he was a healthy scratch for three games in the first round of the playoffs.
The Blackhawks are hoping a fresh start could help Maatta find his game again, and do it in a place that may better utilize his skill-set. Where he could help is in the defensive part.
According to The Point, Maatta ranked 9th among defensemen in blocked shots per game (2.05), 26th in defensive zone puck battles won (2.45), 40th in blocked defense zone passes (3.77) and 47th in outlet passes (8.95).
🚨TRADE ALERT🚨— The Point (@ThePointHockey) June 16, 2019
The #LetsGoPens have traded defenseman Olli Maatta to the #Blackhawks in return for winger Dominik Kahun and a 2019 5th-round pick, clearing $3mil+ in cap space. He isn’t the most offensive dman around, but he’s strong in his own zone and has a solid first pass. pic.twitter.com/LX6ER3xNN2
Maatta, who was taken in the first round (No. 22 overall) in 2012, had 14 points (one goal, 13 assists) in 60 games last season. His best year came in 2017-18 when he tallied 29 points (seven goals, 22 assists) in 82 games. He has three years remaining on his deal that carries a $4.083 million cap hit.
It’s worth noting that when Maatta signing his extension with Pittsburgh on Feb. 26, 2016, the contract included a modified no-trade clause in his final two years, according to Cap Friendly. The Blackhawks will have the option to either honor that clause or nullify it.
The Blackhawks are expected to have some heavy competition among the forwards at training camp with the signings of Dominik Kubalik and Anton Wedin. That likely made Kahun expendable despite a rookie season in which he compiled 37 points (13 goals, 24 assists) in 82 games.