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Does John Hayden have a future with Blackhawks?

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The 2013 third-rounder has lots of work ahead of him if he wants to play in the NHL.

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Calgary Flames Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Second City Hockey continues our Blackhawks 2018-19 season recap on the forwards with John Hayden.

Player information and stats

Acquired: 2013 NHL draft, third round (74th overall)
Age: 24
Shoots: Left
Contract: Signed through 2019-2020 ($750K per year), not waiver exempt.
Stats: 54 games played, 5 points (3 goals, 2 assists), minus-12, 7.1-shooting percentage, 27 penalty minutes, 23 blocks, 97 hits, 15 takeaways, 9 giveaways, 9:10 average time on ice.
Advanced Stats: 45.8 CF%, 50.7 oZS%, 28.3 TOI%_QoC
Favorite highlight from 2018-19 season: Chris Kunitz and Marcus Kruger are battling for the puck on the boards. Kunitz throws the puck to the high slot, it bounces off an Oilers defender and ricochets to Kruger, who is driving to the net. Kruger sends a backhand over to Hayden backdoor who buries it for his third goal of the season. Notice how quickly Hayden had to switch from driving the net with his backhand extended to rolling back his wrists and opening up his forehand to receive Kruger’s pass and then release a shot all in one motion.

Analysis

Before Hayden was drafted by Chicago, he developed his skillset with the United States National Team Development Program. He then attended Yale University where he scored 21 goals in 33 games as their captain in his senior season.

When Hayden was called up to the Blackhawks near the end of the 2016-17 season, he had four points in 12 games and his physical, relentless play was exciting to watch. It made him a candidate to be a solid fit in the bottom six for Chicago. Remember this goal?

Since then, Hayden hasn’t made much of a positive impact at the NHL level. His average time on ice drastically decreased from 11:41 to 9:10 this past season and had a month long stretch in March where he was a healthy scratch. Additionally, his points-per-game dropped from 0.29 in his first 59 career games to 0.09 in 54 games this past season.

When Hayden was getting more ice time in his first two seasons he was utilizing his size and physicality. He averaged 3.7 and 2.5 hits-per-game, respectively. In 2018-19, he recorded 97 hits, which was the top mark among Chicago forwards; however, his hits-per-game dwindled to 1.8.

Another glaring drop off from his first 59 games was Hayden’s individual Corsi-For per game (iCF/g). In his first 59 games, he had a 2.2 iCF/g, but in 2018-19 he only had a 1.6 iCF/g meaning he was was generating less shot attempts and spending less time with the puck in the offensive zone. Consequently, his Corsi-For rate deteriorated from 48.6 to 45.8-percent this season, which ranked second to last on the team.

Hayden stopped using his size and physicality to finish checks and to drive possession below the goal line or toward the net. When he got into the offensive zone he would turn away from the net near the top of the face-off circle and point his body toward the blue line. All a defenseman had to do was close the gap on Hayden and poke the puck away.

Hayden played his best when he was flying around looking for bodies to check, getting to the front of the net searching for rebounds and tips and driving possession toward the net instead of turning away.

Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton saw the diminishing impact Hayden was having on the game at even strength, so he barely saw the ice in the last couple months of the season. When Hayden did get a chance to play, he primarily faced the bottom six of the opposing team with an even mix of offensive (50.7-percent) and non-offensive zone starts. Hayden’s TOI%_QoC of 28.3-percent ranked second to last out of forwards with more than 30 games played. Veteran Chris Kunitz was the only Blackhawk with a lower mark. The reason Hayden’s TOI%_QoC isn’t in the 27-28 range is because opposing coaches would throw their top six on the ice against Hayden and his linemates after an icing or before a face-off when their team could make the ‘last’ change on home ice. As a result, his TOI%_QoC was bumped up slightly.

Outlook

Clearly, Hayden did not have an encouraging season. He has one more season on his contract and is no longer waiver exempt, which means Hayden would have to pass through the waiver wire before he could be demoted to the AHL.

With the recent forward additions of Dominik Kubalik and Anton Wedin, as well as AHL players like Alexandre Fortin, Matthew Highmore and Dylan Sikura preparing to battle for a roster spot, Hayden’s future with Chicago looks bleak.

Hayden’s skillset can be useful in the bottom six. Nevertheless, until he can impact the game consistently with physicality, relentlessness and driving possession toward the opponent’s net, Hayden is likely not in Chicago’s future plans. He could use a fresh start from a trade by general manager Stan Bowman.

Poll

Should the Blackhawks trade John Hayden?

This poll is closed

  • 66%
    Yes
    (422 votes)
  • 12%
    No
    (76 votes)
  • 20%
    Need to see how he performs in 2019-20 before I decide
    (132 votes)
630 votes total Vote Now

*Advanced Stat Glossary - All advanced stats courtesy of Natural Stat Trick, Hockey-Reference, Evolving Hockey and Corsica-Hockey

CF% - The percentage of Corsi, which is the number of shots attempts (goals, shots on net, misses or blocks), that are in Chicago’s favor when Player X or Line X is on the ice. Above 50% suggests Player X or Line X spend the majority of their time on the ice possessing the puck and generating shots and scoring chances.
oZS% - The frequency that a shift for Player X starts in the offensive zone.
TOI%_QoC - The weighted average TOI% (the amount of time on ice for Player X compared to the rest of their teammates) of an opposing player that Player X has to defend at even strength. If Player X is frequently defending against the top 6 forward group of the opposing team, their TOI%_QoC is right around or above 29.0-percent. If Player X is consistently defending bottom 6 forwards from the opponent, their TOI%_QoC is closer to 28.0 and below.