Vigneault sees things my way, will start Hayes on the wing
Finally! After months and months of screaming for Kevin Hayes to be put at his natural position of wing, Alain Vigneault will use him there to start the season. The 23 year old, 6’5″, 205 pounder will play on the second line with Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan. A position where he terrorized the NCAA in his last season of college.
AV feels that the line has some “real potential”. He also believes that Hayes is a “smart player” and noted that it’s a position he’s played before and very comfortable with. This is something I’ve been calling for since early last season. Don’t believe me? Here’s just a few hyperlinks to prove my point.
Mission Critical: Finding a way to get Kevin Hayes on the wing (1/29/15)
Did the Rangers hurt Kevin Hayes’ development (9/27/15)
Don’t get me wrong, Hayes did an excellent job at center once the face-off was out of the way. Unfortunately, he simply couldn’t cut the mustard in the circle. He was outclassed almost every single night and was a liability. His 33% was one of the major reasons the Rangers finished 29th out of 30 on draws last year. It likely was a contributing factor in bringing face-off specialist Jarret Stoll into the mix as well.
So now, Kevin Hayes will play a position he knows and one that will allow him to use his speed and size to get to areas of the ice to score goals. Derek Stepan who continues to develop his deft passing skills is just the right center that can get him the puck. Add in the hulking Chris Kreider on the opposite wing, and the Rangers 2nd line should give NHL teams heart attacks.
I’ve been crushed for my thoughts that Kevin Hayes needs to be put on the wing. It was a position I stood steadfast on, even as he led the Rangers in scoring in the second half as a center.
Alain Vigneault has now seen the light. Maybe now my detractors will as well.