Blues Acquire Kevin Hayes from Flyers

The Kevin Hayes trade saga is officially over, and it’s safe to say that it’s disappointing to see the end result of it.

Fans of both the St. Louis Blues and Philadelphia Flyers were expecting a larger deal, but with defenseman Torey Krug not wanting to waive his no-trade clause, the additional assets from both the teams were removed, and the final return for Hayes was just a 2024 sixth round pick from St. Louis.

The Flyers will retain 50% of Hayes’ salary. He has three years remaining on his seven-year, $50 million contract signed in the 2019 offseason, so both of the two teams will take on $3.57 million of cap space for that span. St. Louis now has $3.935 million of cap space, while Philadelphia has $10.3 million.

Flyers Land Their Second Line Center

While Hayes was overpaid on his contract, as he is getting over $7 million a year annually on average, acquiring him for half of his cap hit is a very intriguing addition for the Blues. He is a capable point producer on a second line, and this move allows Pavel Buchnevich to return to his natural position on the wing, after he played center at the end of the 2022-23 season when Ryan O’Reilly was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Hayes eclipsed the 50-point barrier for just the second time in his career, scoring 54 points in 81 games for the Flyers this past season. The only other time he eclipsed 50 points was when he scored 55 points in 71 games split between the New York Rangers and Winnipeg Jets in the 2018-19 season. However, when he was given that contract from previous Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher, he was given tall expectations.

This helps the Blues in their retool, as he complements the team’s top-nine forward group down the middle, with Robert Thomas centering the top line and Brayden Schenn on the third line, along with getting the pressure off Hayes as he doesn’t have to be the team’s second-leading scorer as he was with Philadelphia this past season, on one of the worst offensive teams in the NHL, with the team as a whole finishing fourth-to-last in goals per game.

Hayes could also get a role in both special teams units, as he scored six goals and 16 points in man advantage situations on a 22nd-ranked Flyers power play unit that converted 19.3% of their power play opportunities. His penalty killing minutes went down throughout the season, but he could be an option that the Blues can use to bolster a penalty kill that killed off just 72.4% of their penalties this past season, third worst in the league.

Flyers Accelerate Rebuild

While the Flyers don’t get a lot of cap space from this trade, it frees up roster spots that they can fill down the middle. With Sean Couturier coming back to the lineup this coming season, had Hayes stayed on the lineup, Morgan Frost and Noah Cates would have gotten less ice time, as they likely would have been on bottom six roles.

The other part is that this boosts the rebuild, which general manager Danny Brière is looking to boost it after three straight years of not making the playoffs. Not only with this move, but also in dealing defenseman Ivan Provorov to the Columbus Blue Jackets in a three-team trade that saw the Flyers acquire goaltender Cal Petersen, defenseman Sean Walker, prospect Helge Grans, and two picks.

This trade for Philadelphia gets them younger, with the only veterans on the team that are at least 30 years old being Couturier, right winger Cam Atkinson, enforcer Nic Deslauriers, and defenseman Nick Seeler. The hope is that young guys like Cates, Frost, Cam York, Tyson Forester and Bobby Brink pan out with the team, along with a career revival for goaltender Carter Hart.

Written by Alec Nava

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