The Boston Globe reported Hayes was pronounced dead on Monday morning at his home in Milton, Mass., but a cause of death was not immediately available.
Hayes won an NCAA hockey championship at Boston College in 2010. The school took to social media to express its sympathy after learning of his passing.
"Boston College Hockey is heartbroken over the passing of Jimmy Hayes. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Hayes family," BC Hockey posted on Twitter.
Hayes recorded 109 points (54 goals, 55 assists) in 334 career games with the Chicago Blackhawks, Florida Panthers, Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils. He was selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the second round of the 2008 NHL Draft.
"The Boston Bruins are heartbroken by the passing of Dorchester native and former Bruin Jimmy Hayes," the team said in a statement.
"His warm personality made an immediate impact in the locker room and with our fans," the Blackhawks said in a statement. "We're proud of the memories he made in Chicago, including his debut in 2011."
New Jersey issued a statement as well, writing: "His infectious personality and easygoing nature were contagious to all who spent time with him. He had a tremendous ability to make everyone feel welcome."
The Devils also postponed their Ty (Smith) Games promotion for Monday, adding that they would pause their social media the rest of the day to pay their respects.
Hayes last played professionally with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League in 2018-19.