Flyers

Flyers acquire Kevin Hayes in trade with Jets

Flyers acquire Kevin Hayes in trade with Jets

General manager Chuck Fletcher wanted to add more proven talent to the Flyers this offseason.

It didn't take him long to start.

The Flyers on Monday night acquired forward Kevin Hayes from the Jets in exchange for a 2019 fifth-round pick.

In 71 games this season, Hayes, 27, scored 19 goals and 55 points between time with the Rangers and Jets. In 2017-18, he scored 25 goals. 

He is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, so the Flyers will obviously have to sign him.

"By gaining the rights to Kevin at this time, it provides us with an opportunity to negotiate with him prior to July 1 when he is due to become an unrestricted free agent," Fletcher said in a release by the team.

Hayes played under Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault with the Rangers from 2014-18. The attraction of playing for his former coach should only help with negotiations. The Flyers also have cap space, one of many aspects Vigneault liked about the club when he was hired in mid-April.

"In today's game, you've got to make sure the environment that you're creating is — I don't want to say pro-player, but it can incite players to choose Philly as a destination because they'll get the best development, they'll get the best coaching whether it be strength, psychological coaches, etc.," Vigneault said at his introduction. "You need total commitment from ownership and there's no doubt that we have that here."

The Flyers will hope that is all appealing to Hayes.

The 2010 first-round pick is 6-foot-5, 216 pounds and can play down the middle or the wing. His 25 goals last season were a career high and his 55 points this season were also a personal best. In each of his five seasons with the Rangers, Hayes scored 14 or more goals. Rebuilding New York sent him to Winnipeg at the NHL trade deadline. With the Jets, he put up 13 points in 20 games and scored a pair of goals in six playoff contests.

Hayes can play on the penalty kill and on the power play. In 2017-18, when he netted his career high in goals, he was second on the Rangers in shorthanded ice time. For his career, he is a plus-28. He's known as a smart and responsible player, traits the Flyers want more of within their forwards. The Flyers had a minus-37 goal differential this season and allowed the NHL's third-most goals per game at 3.41, missing the playoffs for the fourth time in the last seven seasons.

"I think we score, but maybe finding another experienced guy that can help with that mindset — playing the right way, that could contribute both ways," Fletcher said in April after the Flyers' season ended.

"The best teams in the league defensively, often don't defend. They're playing in the offensive zone. They have the puck. We can do a better job with puck support, holding onto the puck, being above the puck in the offensive zone, and not giving easy transitions to the other team."

Hayes would also help the Flyers' depth down the middle. It's uncertain if 20-year-old Nolan Patrick is ready to be the team's second-line center. Hayes could relieve some pressure off of Patrick's shoulders as the 2017 second overall pick continues to develop.

The Flyers now have nine picks in the June 21-22 entry draft. This season, Hayes was on a one-year, $5.175 million deal. If the Flyers can sign him and lose only a fifth-round pick in the process, it would be an impressive start to Fletcher's first offseason in charge.

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One Flyer was reportedly a hot trade target, but Chuck Fletcher shut it down

One Flyer was reportedly a hot trade target, but Chuck Fletcher shut it down

The suddenly-ascendant Flyers pieced together a somewhat busy trade deadline, acquiring a pair of depth forwards in Derek Grant and Nate Thompson to pad a playoff run, but things could've been much busier if rival executives had their way Monday.

One young Flyers player not named Shayne Gostisbehere was attracting a lot of attention as general managers circled the wagons before the deadline, according to a report from Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman.

That player? Scott Laughton:

Another player I heard a lot of teams liked: Philadelphia’s Scott Laughton.

'Chuck (Fletcher) couldn’t hang up fast enough,' another exec joked.

That's a great quote. I can see Fletcher laughing to himself, and quietly hitting "end call," when Laughton's name came up.

And it makes plenty of sense for Fletcher to shut down Laughton talks, on two fronts — both of which should excite Flyers fans.

For one, Fletcher avoiding temptation at the deadline means he has his eyes on the postseason prize. The Flyers, after Tuesday night's win (see story), are just five points behind Metro-leading Washington, with 19 games left before the playoffs. It would take a serious meltdown to miss the postseason, and it seems Fletcher feels like the Flyers can make noise in April (and May, and maybe even June?) so he stood pat.

Also, and this is probably a little more obvious: Laughton has turned into a young, sought-after talent in the eyes of league execs this season.

It's no secret that the 2019-20 season has been the best of Laughton's young career. He's already tied his career high in goals with 12, he's averaging a point every two games, and he's just 25 years old. The hard-nosed 2012 first-round pick is officially coming into his own this year, and he's still under contract through the end of the 2020-21 season. Really, it's an ideal development for the Flyers.

Is Laughton currently the kind of player who defines your team? Not just yet.

But he's become the kind of player other teams want, which is always a good sign.

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With newcomers, Flyers keep on humming in NHL playoff race, have Penguins in their sights

With newcomers, Flyers keep on humming in NHL playoff race, have Penguins in their sights

BOX SCORE

A day after the NHL trade deadline, the Flyers showed off their new look and didn't miss a beat.

With reinforcements Derek Grant and Nate Thompson, the Flyers defeated the Sharks, 4-2, Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers (36-20-7) have won four straight games, their longest win streak since Dec. 17-23, when they also won four in a row.

Not many in the league have been better than the Flyers over their last 20 games. The Flyers are 14-5-1 with an NHL-high 72 goals since Jan. 8. Over that stretch, only one club has more points than the Flyers' 29 — the Lightning with 31.

The Sharks (26-33-4), who have a number of injuries and traded away Barclay Goodrow and Patrick Marleau before Monday's deadline, have lost five straight.

• Good work by the Flyers handling a lesser opponent.

Tuesday was a big night in the playoff race as the Islanders, Blue Jackets and Hurricanes were all in action

The Flyers are still in third place of the Metropolitan Division and climbed to within one point of the second-place Penguins.

• The new line of Scott Laughton, Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny sure was fun to watch.

During the second period, Hayes and Konecny scored goals to help the Flyers restore order with a 3-1 lead at intermission.

Hayes tacked on another in the third period, giving him 21 markers this season. The 27-year-old is projected to break his career high of 25 set in 2017-18 and he might flirt with 30.

On Hayes' first goal, the 6-foot-5 center used his impressive reach to snag Laughton's pass and bury the shot. The Flyers are 17-0-1 when Hayes scores a goal.

Meanwhile, Konecny finished with his third three-point effort over the last four games. He had two three-point games over his first three NHL seasons.

Laughton continued his always reliable play with two assists and a plus-3 mark.

• Grant and Thompson, both acquired by the Flyers Monday, were eased into duty.

Both went scoreless as Grant committed a penalty and was solid in the faceoff circle, while Thompson centered the fourth line.

Here's how they're getting acclimated (see story).

• At home, Carter Hart has been an absolute nightmare for opponents.

With 26 saves, he improved his home mark to 17-2-2.

The 21-year-old has yielded two or fewer goals in 17 of his 21 home games. He is a must-see ticket in Philly.

• Defensemen Matt Niskanen and Travis Sanheim made clutch third-period plays to break up juicy scoring chances for the Sharks.

• Nicolas Aube-Kubel has six goals this season. He has turned into one of the biggest surprises since his mid-December call-up.

Last season, he went scoreless over nine outings, playing just 5:35 minutes per game.

• A beautiful job by the Flyers.

• The Flyers are off Wednesday and practice Thursday at 11:30 a.m. in Voorhees, New Jersey, before hosting the Rangers Friday night (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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