The Philadelphia Flyers’ gamble of trading for Kevin Hayes earlier this month paid off on Tuesday night.
Or should we say, being traded to the Flyers paid off for Kevin Hayes?
The 27-year-old power forward avoided free agency by reportedly signing a sizable seven-year, $50 million deal to stay in Philadelphia, per TSN’s Bob McKenzie.
Hayes’ rights were traded to the Flyers on Jun. 3 for a 2019 fifth-round draft pick, giving general manager Chuck Fletcher 27 days of exclusive negotiating rights before the start of free agency on Jul. 1.
Securing Hayes was an important move for the Flyers, who needed scoring depth down the middle of their offense. Philadelphia’s reliance on some combination Scott Laughton, Corban Knight, Phil Varone, and Mikhail Vorobyev behind Sean Couturier and the still-developing Nolan Patrick.
Hayes provides the Flyers with a second-line winger that brings a blend of size and skill on the puck that is difficult to find in the NHL. At 6-foot-5, 216 pounds, Hayes is coming off a career-best 55-point season (19 goals, 36 assists) with the Jets and New York Rangers.
In terms of goal-scoring, it was a slight dip from the career-high 25 goals he put up two years ago with the Rangers, but there is still plenty of promise for Hayes.
But was the price right?
Hayes is now making an average annual salary of $7.14 million. Given his numbers and the way the market has played out so far this offseason, that’s quite the overpay by Fletcher.
Flyers fans can look no further than their Metropolitan Division rivals, the New York Islanders, to see that this might have been too high a price for Hayes.
New York president and general manager Lou Lamoriello signed Brock Nelson — who had just two fewer points and six more goals than Hayes in 2018-19 — to a six-year, $36 million deal ($6 million AAV).
Just last week, he then signed Jordan Eberle to a five-year, $27.5 million ($5.5 million AAV). Eberle has scored at least 25 goals in four of the last six seasons and is coming off a big-time playoff performance in which he scored four goals in the first round against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It might have been a necessary move by Fletcher to offer that much money for Hayes just to secure him for the long haul. After all, the Flyers still have approximately $22 million in cap space this summer following the signing, per CapFriendly.com.