With the 2019-20 NHL regular season likely over, we can fully evaluate individual players from the Philadelphia Flyers.
No move that the Philadelphia Flyers made prior to the 2019-20 season was more controversial than the decision to trade for impending free agent Kevin Hayes, and then sign him to a huge 7-year contract shortly thereafter to prevent him from hitting the open market.
People said it was a big overpay. And they said that Hayes had no intention of signing with the Flyers but only did so because of the huge contract put before him. Finally, they said the Flyers would regret it for years to come once he signed on the dotted line.
But you know what? It worked out fine, at least in Year One.
Hayes will finish this season with 23 goals and 18 assists while playing in all 69 of the club’s games. If the season would have gone the distance, he would have topped his career-high of 25 goals, although the 55 points he put up last season were probably out of reach, barring a real hot streak at the end of the season.
The point production was fine, maybe a little bit underwhelming in the overall scheme of things, but Hayes’ extremely slow start (7 points in his first 20 games) is mostly to blame for that. He’s been a consistent contributor since around Thanksgiving, and his play on the penalty kill has been one of this season’s biggest and best surprises for the Flyers. I, for one, didn’t know how good Hayes’ puck possession skills were, and his ability to rag the puck and effectively waste opposing power plays has been a sight to see all year.
Beyond the scoring and the PK work, Hayes has quickly established himself as a clubhouse leader. The Flyers announced right out of the gate that he would wear an “A” during road games for the team. I guess those kinds of things are expected when you make a big commitment like he and the team did to each other, and it’s thankfully gone quite well.
Kevin Hayes has come a long way from his early struggles, and the less than flattering article I wrote about him on November 19 really hasn’t aged well. Good on him for proving me wrong. I hope he keeps doing it for the life of his contract with the Flyers.
Just like during my evaluation of Tyler Pitlick where I touched on advanced stats like Corsi and Fenwick, those metrics don’t exactly give rave reviews to Kevin Hayes. But they are close enough to the break-even mark (where Hayes has hovered for his entire career) that I think we can accept that they don’t paint the whole picture.
KEVIN HAYESC, Philadelphia Flyers
In his first year with the Flyers, Kevin Hayes became even more important than we thought he would be thanks to the season-long absence of Nolan Patrick. And he’s largely delivered on expectations, even if he remains somewhat overpaid. The question is, at what point does his contract start looking like a really bad one? Not for a while, hopefully.