Philadelphia Flyers offseason overhaul part one: The Kevin Hayes trade

Let's forget this ever happened. Ew. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Let's forget this ever happened. Ew. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia Flyers made the first big move of their offseason on Monday, bringing in Kevin Hayes to add some sorely needed depth down the middle.

While the two best teams in hockey were engaged in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night, the Philadelphia Flyers made the best of their down time by completing a trade with the Winnipeg Jets to bring in center Kevin Hayes.

The 27-year old Hayes would be a solid albeit unspectacular addition to the Flyers’ offense, but first the Flyers must actually get around to signing him to a new deal since Hayes is a pending unrestricted free agent at the end of this month.

But by making a deal for him for only the negligible cost of a fifth-round draft pick, Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher has bought himself a window where his team alone can negotiate with Hayes’ camp now that they have acquired his rights.

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Winnipeg, obviously seeing the writing on the wall that they would not be able to re-sign Hayes, got what they could.

One can only assume that the Flyers are very confident in their ability to ink Hayes to a new contract and have an idea of how much money they will have to shell out, which shouldn’t be a problem because of the space that they have under the salary cap.

And in case you’re wondering, the franchise has pulled off this move before with the likes of Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen. And a certain zany Russian goalie (let’s maybe not focus on that last one).

So, while getting Hayes under contract should be a formality, what can we expect once he officially dons the Orange and Black?

For one thing, it wouldn’t be fair at this early stage to discuss exact point projections simply because we don’t know how the rest of the Flyers’ offseason will play out. What we can say, however, is that the Flyers will likely expect Hayes to replicate and improve at least somewhat on the 20-goal and 50-point ranges that he has largely settled around during his five seasons in the NHL.

With his linemates to be determined (Jakub Voracek? James van Riemsdyk? Another free agent signing?), Hayes will likely be slotted in as the team’s No. 2 centerman behind Sean Couturier right from the beginning.

Plus, with some more development from Nolan Patrick, maybe he and Hayes could almost be used interchangeably between second-line and third-line duty, although it was Patrick’s lack of progress as a sophomore that largely forced Fletcher to make this kind of move.

Hayes is a big-bodied player who is agile enough that he doesn’t seem out of place in today’s speed-based league.

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He will be an asset for the Flyers at even strength, but his raw numbers have been seemingly average to this point of his career largely because of his lack of power play opportunities and, subsequently, scoring with the man advantage.

Might he be able to fill the role of “big body in front of the net” on the first unit of the power play? You can be sure that head coach Alain Vigneault and presumptive power play director Mike Yeo will explore all options with their new player.

Going from the New York Rangers to the Jets at this year’s trade deadline, Hayes was seen as a rental for Winnipeg who would find himself in high demand on the free agent market come July 1. Credit goes to Chuck Fletcher for getting ahead of the game in this case, as he seemingly beat several teams to the punch in making a move.

Now, it will be imperative to actually get him under contract so that the team can move along to other priorities in a crucial offseason for a Flyers team that desperately needs to revive a feeling of excitement among its fan base.

Philadelphia still has a long way to go when it comes to filling additional needs this offseason, but at least the Hayes trade is a start.