Flyers

Flyers sign Kevin Hayes to 7-year, $50 million contract

Flyers

Kevin Hayes isn't going anywhere.

General manager Chuck Fletcher delivered on his strategy of acquiring the impending unrestricted free agent to jump ahead in negotiations by signing Hayes on Wednesday to a seven-year, $50 million deal ($7.14 million AAV).

"We are very happy to sign Kevin to a long-term contract," Fletcher said in a release by the team. "He plays a smart, two-way game and is just entering the prime of his career. Kevin will add size and skill to our lineup."

The Flyers traded for Hayes' rights on June 3, sending a 2019 fifth-round pick to the Jets. By June 23, Hayes would have been able to speak with other clubs. By July 1, he would have become an unrestricted free agent.

The Flyers avoided those possibilities by locking up the 27-year-old from Dorchester, Massachusetts, a 6-foot-5, 216-pound forward who the Flyers believe will make them tougher to play against down the middle. The contract has a no-movement clause for the first three years and a modified no-movement clause for the final four, according to a report by Sportsnet's Chris Johnston.

It's a lot of money and a lot of years, but the Flyers had around $30 million in cap space and the projection is Hayes' prime years are ahead.

 

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Hayes is coming off a career year of 55 points (19 goals, 36 assists) after scoring a personal-best 25 goals in 2017-18. What made him even more attractive to the Flyers were his versatility and smarts. He can play center or winger, on the penalty kill and power play, and is a responsible forward who suited up under Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault from 2014-18 in New York.

In 2017-18, when Hayes netted his career high in goals, he was second on the Rangers in shorthanded ice time.

At Fletcher's end-of-the-season press conference after the Flyers missed the playoffs for the fourth time in the last seven years, the GM lamented bad on-ice habits for why the club was so maddeningly inconsistent.

"It's not just systems," Fletcher said. "It's puck management, game management, being in the right spot, holding onto the puck offensively, making more plays offensively, retrieving pucks and winning battles. There's a whole host of things that go into it. 

"We have some bad habits right now — flying into the zone before we have possession of the puck, not getting in shooting lanes, not keeping the third guy high, turning pucks over in the neutral zone when there's no time and space to make a play, and just recognizing things. It's mindset, but you need the mindset to embrace the habits."

The Flyers believe Hayes, a career plus-28, is the type of player to push that movement forward. The move also makes the Flyers considerably deeper, potentially opening up 20-year-old center Nolan Patrick's game (see story).

This offseason, Fletcher has added Hayes, Matt Niskanen and Justin Braun. He has taken on money but that was part of the draw with the Flyers and why Fletcher was brought on board — to utilize his resources and make things happen.

It's June 19 and Fletcher is far from done. Stay tuned.

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