Flyers trade Kevin Hayes before 2023 NHL Draft

Kevin Hayes is a Flyer no more.

The veteran forward, 31, was traded to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for a 2024 sixth-round pick, the Flyers announced on Tuesday, in a move that has been widely anticipated for some time as Philadelphia begins a rebuild.

Hayes, who is coming off an All-Star season, remarked in April that he suspected his days in Philadelphia could be numbered after the team plummeted to 26th in league standings this past season.

“I picked up the message that was sent months ago. … We’ll see how that unfolds,” Hayes said at the time, according to The Inquirer

“Their decisions have probably already been made. We don’t know them yet. I’m sure I’ll find out around the draft.”

Hayes has three years remaining on his seven-year, $50 million contract he signed with the Flyers in 2019.

Hayes plays during an NHL hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings.

As part of Tuesday’s deal, the Flyers will retain 50 percent of Hayes’ salary, which is $7.14 million annually, with the Blues taking a cap hit of $3.57 million.

The trade makes sense as the Flyers appear to be focused on bringing in new, younger players to help shape their up-and-coming roster.

The Flyers announced Keith Jones and Daniel Briere as the organization’s president and general manager, respectively, last month, with the duo now tasked to restructure Philadelphia into a winning squad.

Hayes (13) battles with Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk (7).
USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Hayes had strong stats in his fourth year with the Flyers, but the numbers did not reflect the mood on the ice or –– more specifically –– in the locker room with head coach John Tortorella, who is known for his fire-cracker personality. 

The 6-foot-5 center posted 54 points during the 2022-23 season, tying a career-high 36 assists through 81 games played. 

Despite the offensive production, Tortorella reportedly wanted Hayes to tighten up his defensive game and he was benched during the year.

Hayes was marked as a healthy scratch in December and also saw his ice time diminish and was moved from center to left wing.

Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin makes a save on a shot by Philadelphia Flyers center Kevin Hayes.
Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin makes a save on a shot by Philadelphia Flyers center Kevin Hayes.

Although Hayes was selected as an NHL All-Star for the first time in his career this year, he felt like anything but in Philadelphia.

“It’s tough when you’re getting 22 minutes a night and leading the team in points, and then you wake up, you get back from All-Star break and you’re playing eight minutes tonight and playing with different players,” Hayes said.

Hayes spent the first five seasons of his career with the New York Rangers before being acquired by the Winnipeg Jets in February 2019.

His negotiating rights were traded to Philadelphia in June 2019.

The Hayes trade comes a day before the 2023 NHL Draft, with the Flyers holding 10 picks, including No. 7 and No. 22 in the first round.

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