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The Flyers’ New Kevin Hayes Situation

Chuck Fletcher announced the team would be aggressive in pursuing outside talent to help the team.

During Game 4 of the Cup Final, he followed through with his first big move of the summer. Fletcher sent a fifth-round pick in the 2019 draft to Winnipeg for the negotiating rights to free agent center, Kevin Hayes.

Per Charlie O’Connor’s breakdown of the deal, the Flyers have been four-for-five in recent years on signing free agents in which they traded for prior to July 1st. The one that got away, Dan Hamhuis, was still managed to be traded for an asset.

Hayes, a 27 year old coming off a career season, is probably a risky bet. While his overall career trajectory is good, the Flyers are betting on more growth. Familiarity with the systems’ of head coach Alain Vigneault must be a selling point, a system where Hayes had success. From 2014 to 2018, he averaged over 43 points per season, peaking at 25 goals in 2017-18. Suspiciously, Vigneault’s departure from the Rangers was met with 42 points in 51 games for Hayes on a rebuilding New York team.

After pacing at 52 points through his 20 games in Winnipeg, the Flyers are going to have to hope he’s trending upward. Come July 1st, Hayes is free to sign with any team he likes. Until then, EvolvingWild’s contract projector highlights a five year deal at around $6M per season.

Using comparable contracts given to players with similar age and production, Hayes projects to almost certainly get a long term deal done somewhere. The Flyers probably need to bump up the price to ensure he stays. Think in the $6.5M range. They have the cap space to sign him at (or above) market price, and the salary cap continues to climb upward. The 2019-20 season should have a cap of $83M, meaning player salaries will go up to match.

Many contracts are given less as a number of millions, and more as a percentage of the current cap. Hayes should sign for somewhere around seven percent of the current cap. This addition— should he choose to sign— would slide Nolan Patrick into the third line center position. This is probably more appropriate ice time for the 2nd overall pick, allowing him better match-ups against the opposition.

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