On June 3rd, nothing was really going on in the hockey world. Of course other than Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final. The Flyers didn’t really care about that and dropped the news that they traded their 5th round pick for the rights to pending UFA center Kevin Hayes. Why would they do this? Couldn’t they just wait and sign him once free agency started? The value in trading for Hayes now is time to negotiate. From the moment they traded for him until June 23rd, the Flyers will have exclusive negotiating rights. Only the Flyers will be able to try and work out a deal with the centerman. However, the risk the Flyers are taking is that he might not sign with them. If that is the case, GM Chuck Fletcher just gave up a 5th rounder for nothing. It’s worth noting that this is Fletcher’s fist offseason as GM of the Flyers, and it would make a bad first impression to straight up lose a draft pick. Also, Hayes played under current Flyers coach Alain Vigneault and has experience in his system. Some people have said that Vigneault held him back, but I’m optimistic that having Vigneault is a positive, not a negative when it comes to Hayes signing here.
Kevin Hayes is a 27 year old center with 5 NHL seasons under his belt. He’s played an average of 76 games per season, so he generally does not get injured and puts up solid offensive numbers. He’s a just under 50-point center who you can rely on defensively and can put in time on the power play and penalty kill. This is something the Flyers need, as for the past few seasons, they have relied on younger guys to fill roles and surprise, surprise, they’ve been inconsistent, alternating between making and missing the playoffs. Assuming they sign Hayes, it gives the Flyers much needed flexibility. Hayes can start as the second line center, and move down a line and have Nolan Patrick move up if he is playing well. Don’t forget that injuries do happen, and having more depth is good.
The Flyers will have to give Hayes a contract if they want to keep him around past July 1st. I’ve seen plenty of comparables, but most are in the 5-6 years 6 million per year range. I think that is a slight overpayment but the Flyers have a lot of money to work with and Hayes can play center, a position that generally gets overpaid because it’s so vital to a hockey team. My prediction is 6 years, $37.5 million. That averages out to $6.25 per season. Brock Nelson was just resigned by the Islanders for $6 million per year, and I’m willing to bet Hayes (and the Flyers for that matter) think he’s worth a tad more. This move really says something about what Chuck Fletcher wants to do with this team this offseason, he’s ready to make moves and I’m excited for it, I’m ready for the Flyers to finally make big strides to really improve their team.
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