The Philadelphia Flyers took another step in their rebuild Tuesday by trading their second-leading scorer, center Kevin Hayes, to the St. Louis Blues.
Hayes will go to the Blues for a 2024 sixth-round pick. As part of the deal, the Flyers will retain 50% of Hayes’ $7.142 million salary cap. CapFriendly projects the Blues now have $3.935 million in cap space available while the Flyers have $10.3 million in cap space available.
It’s a trade that accomplishes a number of things for two teams that seem to be trending in different directions.
Landing Hayes gives the Blues top-six center that could help them return to the playoffs after they finished 37-38-7 and were within 14 points of the final Western Conference wild-card spot. They’re also adding a 6-foot-5 forward who had arguably the strongest season of his career while playing for a Flyers team that was struggling to score.
Hayes, 31, eclipsed the 50-point mark for the second time in his career, having last done so during the 2018-19 season when he scored 19 goals and 55 points while playing for the New York Rangers and Winnipeg. Jets.
Hayes, who just finished his fourth season in Philadelphia, had 18 goals and 54 points for the Flyers. While Hayes came within one point of tying his career high, he was the second leading scorer on a team that struggled to score, as evidenced by the fact that they finished 29th in goals per game.
Adding Hayes also complements the Blues’ top-nine dynamic in the middle with Robert Thomas and Brayden Schenn.
It’s also possible Hayes could play a role on both special teams units. Hayes had six power play goals and 16 extra skater advantage points this season, which could prove useful for a Blues unit that finished 22nd on the power play with a 19.3 success rate. And while his penalty minutes have dwindled each season with the Flyers, he could be another option the Blues use to fuel a kill that ranked 30th out of 32 teams with a 72.4% success rate.
Perhaps the greatest value Hayes offers is that the Blues were able to land a top-six center at a reduced salary without having to give up one of their three first-round picks in Wednesday’s NHL draft.
As for the Flyers, it’s the latest move in a rebuild marked by change. It began when the club promoted former star Danny Briere from assistant general manager to general manager. The Flyers also hired another familiar face in Keith Jones, who will leave the TNT broadcast to serve as president of hockey operations.
Briere has had an active offseason for a franchise that missed the playoffs for the third straight season after finishing 31-38-13 and 17 points out of the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot.
It started when the Flyers parted ways with defenseman Ivan Provorov and sent him to the Columbus Blue Jackets in a three-team trade that also involved the Los Angeles Kings.
Now that they’ve traded Hayes, the Flyers have been able to get rid of the cap space and rejuvenate themselves at the same time. Hayes’ departure leaves Cam Atkinson, Sean Couturier, Nicolas Deslauriers and Nick Seeler as the over-30 players remaining under contract, with veteran winger James van Riemsdyk a pending unrestricted free agent.