Prior to puck drop for Game Four of the Stanley Cup that the Blues took 4-2 over the Bruins to square the series, the Flyers made some news of their own.
In an interesting move, they acquired Kevin Hayes from Winnipeg for a fifth round draft pick. In doing so, the Flyers now have the rest of June to negotiate with the 27-year old center. If they can reach agreement on a contract, Hayes will be crossed off the market on July 1.
It’s interesting for one reason. Hayes knows new Flyers coach Alain Vigneault. Is a reunion between AV and Hayes likely? Considering he once benched the forward in the playoffs for Tanner Glass, there’s some history.
It’s worth noting that also under Vigneault, Hayes matured into a shutdown center in ’17-18 before his dismissal. The coach liked matching up the Hayes line against top scoring lines of opponents. He became a better player and carried it forward with a career high 55 points (19-36-55) with the Rangers and Jets. A year after posting a career best 25 goals with 17 even strength and two shorthanded, Hayes went 14-28-42 in 51 games for the Rangers, who traded him to Winnipeg for Brendan Lemieux and a 2019 first round pick.
As a rental, he had mixed results under Jets coach Paul Maurice. In 20 games after the trade deadline, Hayes tallied five goals and eight assists. In a disappointing first round defeat to the Blues, he had two goals and an assist in six games.
With the Jets having to focus on other key free agents this offseason, there was little chance Hayes would be back. This confirms that.
If they’re able to sign him, it’s a good risk by the Flyers. They can use a more experienced center for their second line with former 2017 second overall pick Nolan Patrick yet to establish himself. Hayes can slot in behind Sean Couturier on the second line with James van Riemsdyk and either Jakub Voracek or Travis Konecny.
Who knows? You never can tell what the Flyers are thinking. First Vigneault and now possibly Hayes.