Philadelphia Flyers: Replacing Kevin Hayes will be a team affair

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Kevin Hayes holds a unique place in the hearts of Philadelphia Flyers fans.

To some, he’s a fun-loving, affable power forward with a lethal shot and an eye for setting up teammates like Joel Farabee and potentially Cam Atkinson.

And to others? Well, Hayes is already an overpaid middle-six guy whose contact will look worse and worse with each passing season.

As a certified Hayes fan, I certainly think he’s far more of the former than the latter, but as even the most fervent anti-fans of “Hollywood Hayes” all attest, the Philadelphia Flyers are certainly a better team with him on the ice than riding the pines. Unfortunately, we’ll creatively have to wait a little longer than expected for that day to come, however, as Hayes is expected to miss between six-eight weeks following abdominal surgery.

Fingers crossed absence makes the Hart grow fonder.

The Philadelphia Flyers are going to miss Kevin Hayes when the season opens up.

Measuring in at 6-foot-5, 218 pounds, Kevin Hayes is the most physically imposing forward on the Philadelphia Flyers’ roster.

He’s a left-handed shot, which isn’t particularly rare on the Flyers these days, but does hold the distinction of having scored the third-most goals on the team since signing a massive seven-year, $50 million deal back in 2019, trailing only Sean Couturier, and Claude Giroux.

Not too shabby for a fifth-round pick, is it?

Hayes was a fixture of the team’s powerplay, played even more in short-handed situations, and played the most minutes of any forward not named Couturier or Giroux.

How, you may ask, will the Flyers replace Hayes’ production for roughly 10 games when the season opens up next month? Well, it won’t be easy and certainly won’t be done by one man, that’s for sure.

Because Hayes would split time between the center and right-wing spot, the Flyers will, fortunately, be able to toggle their lineups around a bit to hide his absence depending on the matchup. That might mean giving Scott Laughton a second-line role in one game, playing Giroux at center in another, or giving protected player Nicolas Aube-Kubel a bit more action in the top-six.

Needless to say, the end of 2020 is going to be a pivotal period for Morgan Frost; the player Philly selected 25 picks after Nolan Patrick.

Fortunately, the Flyers were wise to stock up on a slew of different defensemen with a varied set of skills to help bolster their special teams while Hayes is on the mend.

Is replacing Hayes with Keith Yandle a unique choice on the power play next to, say, Ryan Ellis? Maybe so, but it’s hard to argue that having him on the third-pairing doesn’t make that a possibility over, say, Philippe Myers or Erik Gustafsson.

Sidebar: Gosh, do you remember Gustafsson in a Flyers uniform? I known he ended up being a decent enough contributor for the Montreal Canadiens but goodness, he was a certified free agent miss this side of the border.

Can Nolan Patrick live up to his new contract?. dark. Next

Do the Philadelphia Flyers have enough promising bodies to help replace Kevin Hayes’ 17:30 of ATOI per game? Potentially so. Are any of those players better than Hayes? Right now, no, but eventually, it’s possible. With a 10 game trial run to take a glimpse into that future, the Flyers will get a unique opportunity to see what life without Hayes could look like, even if that horrid day won’t come until the 2026-27 NHL season.