Flyers

Kevin Hayes has special night to beat his former team Rangers

Kevin Hayes has special night to beat his former team Rangers

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Kevin Hayes' fist pump was so emphatic, it was probably felt in New York.

In his first game against his old club since being traded by the Rangers during February, the 27-year-old center lifted the Flyers to an exciting 5-1 win Monday at the Wells Fargo Center.

The building had extra juice to it in a divisional game right before Christmas and Hayes made the night live up to the hype.

The Flyers (21-11-5) have won four straight and will enjoy the holidays. At the holiday break last season, they were 15-16-4 and tied for 25th in the NHL with 34 points.

This season, since Oct. 21, the Flyers are 19-8-4 with 42 points. Only two NHL teams have more points over that span — the Blues and Capitals.

The Rangers (17-15-4) have three more meetings with the Flyers — Feb. 28, March 1 and April 1.

• Hayes had some extra giddyap. There's no denying this game meant a little more to him.

The 6-foot-5 center has had nothing but positive things to say about his time with the Rangers. However, New York didn't want to go long term with Hayes and that probably means something to him.

Hayes scored the game-winning goal in the third period, then added another in the final minutes (see highlights). He has 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) over the last 17 contests.

During the first period, Hayes was also a stud in helping the Flyers kill the Rangers' 5-on-3 power play and the crowd loved it.

This was a big one for him and head coach Alain Vigneault, who coached New York from 2013 to 2018.

“I’m sure it meant more to him than to me," Vigneault said of Hayes. "He’s been wound up about this game for a while."

• Travis Sanheim was big with two goals — one to tie the game in the second period with only two seconds left during the frame, the other to cushion the lead in the third.

Nicolas Aube-Kubel capped the night with his first career NHL goal.

• Carter Hart came into the matchup 10-1-2 with a 1.53 goals-against and .944 save percentage at home.

He was splendid again with 34 saves.

New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who faced the Flyers for the 60th time in his career, was not easy to break and stopped 25 shots.

He is 35-18-5 lifetime against the orange and black.

• Ivan Provorov did not partake in morning skate because he's battling the flu.

“He said, ‘There’s not a chance I’m not playing,’” Vigneault said.

Provorov has never missed a game in his NHL career and that streak continued as he played in his 283rd straight contest.

The 22-year-old defenseman committed a costly turnover in the second period, which led to a shorthanded goal and 1-0 lead for the Rangers.

A sick Provorov is better than no Provorov, though. He played 23:20.

• The Flyers' power play, which was 4 for 12 over the last three wins, went 1 for 6 and allowed New York's only goal.

The team's penalty kill was good, though, denying the Rangers four times.

After sporting the NHL's second-worst penalty kill percentage (78.4) over the past five seasons, the Flyers have a top-10 unit in 2019-20.

• A classy move by the Rangers in support of Oskar Lindblom (see story).

• Philly is excited about them Birds.

• After the NHL-mandated holiday break from Tuesday to Thursday, the Flyers practice Friday at 11:30 a.m. in Voorhees, New Jersey, before opening a six-game road trip Saturday when they play the Sharks (10:30 p.m. ET/NBCSP+).

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NHL trade deadline: Flyers acquire Derek Grant in trade with Ducks

NHL trade deadline: Flyers acquire Derek Grant in trade with Ducks

Updated: 1:37 p.m.

VOORHEES, N.J. — General manager Chuck Fletcher has put a focus on adding to his group of forwards to augment the Flyers' playoff push.

Shortly after acquiring Nate Thompson (see story), the Flyers made a much more notable depth acquisition ahead of Monday's 3 p.m. ET trade deadline. Fletcher acquired Derek Grant from the Ducks in exchange for Phantoms forward Kyle Criscuolo and a 2020 fourth-round draft pick. The pick will be the better of the two fourth-round selections the Flyers have — their own pick and the one they acquired from the Predators last deadline.

Grant, a well-traveled forward with positional versatility, already owns a personal-best 14 goals and is five points away from breaking his career high of 24 set in 2017-18.

Head coach Alain Vigneault mentioned how Grant, who can play center or winger, could open on the wing with the Flyers, while Thompson appears to be a fourth-line center type.

The 29-year-old Grant checked a lot of boxes for the Flyers (see story). His cap hit is only $700,000 and he can become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason, so he doesn't block the club's future down the middle or on the wing.

"We’ll have to figure out where he fits in best with our team," Vigneault said Monday after practice. "In doing our homework, the feedback that we got back was that he’s a very versatile player who can play all the positions. I felt that was important. It gives me a little bit more leeway as far as certain nights when some guys are on top of their game or some other guys are a little bit off. We’ll see. We’ll have some decisions to make."

Grant was playing fourth-line center for the Ducks, his sixth NHL team, and was one of their best penalty killers. The move made Connor Bunnaman an odd man out of the lineup as the rookie was loaned to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley after practice. He played well as a rookie, but Grant gives the Flyers experience, size, a boost on special teams and some secondary scoring potential.

"This was obviously the whole staff getting together — pro scouts, management and coaches — analyzing our team, analyzing where we are," Vigneault said. "I think it was an easy conclusion to make that if we could improve our depth, we would do that. So far, that’s what we’ve done. We’ve been able to add a fourth-line centerman that’s going to help us in Thompson on the PK. Grant’s got a little bit more versatility, he can play all three positions, he’s been used in a PK and power play role.

"So we felt that we needed a little bit more depth in this final push here moving forward, and so far that’s what we’ve added."

The Flyers have relied on younger forwards Bunnaman, Joel Farabee and Nicolas Aube-Kubel, all of whom have held their own during the playoff race. Since Jan. 8, the Flyers are 13-5-1 with an NHL-high 68 goals.

However, the Flyers had only 12 healthy forwards with 20 games remaining and competing in the NHL's deepest division (see story). Farabee was also loaned to the Phantoms, but there's a good chance he'll be back with the big club at some point.

"We're pretty comfortable with the group we have, but bringing in some experience always helps. You can't have enough experience down the road," Sean Couturier said. "It's nice to see the confidence from the management. It's just up to us now to go out there and keep doing our job, keep winning games."

Grant is expected to be in the Flyers' lineup Tuesday night against the Sharks (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

"Remembering him, he's a big guy, pretty strong out there, tough to play against," Couturier said. "It's nice to see some addition. I think he's having a great year, too, so we'll definitely need him down the road."

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Flyers NHL trade deadline 2020: A boost from Ducks center Derek Grant

Flyers NHL trade deadline 2020: A boost from Ducks center Derek Grant

Leading up to the Feb. 24 NHL trade deadline, we looked at potential targets on the market and why they may or may not fit the Flyers' plans, including Ducks center Derek Grant.

At 11:30 a.m on deadline day, the Flyers acquired Grant. Below is our original profile of him. 

***

Derek Grant

Age: 29
Height: 6-3
Weight: 206
Team: Anaheim Ducks
2019-20 cap hit: $700,000

Scouting report

The well-traveled center has picked an opportune time for a career year. Grant, who is playing for his sixth NHL team, already owns a personal-best 14 goals and is five points away from breaking his career high of 24 set in 2017-18.

Grant, who has some positional versatility, possesses the characteristics the Flyers targeted last offseason — quality size, good physicality and strength in puck battles.

He's not highly skilled or an active playmaker, but the fourth-line center leads Anaheim's forwards in shorthanded minutes per game and is solid in the faceoff circle.

Projection

This one checks a lot of boxes.

It would make sense for the Ducks, who are in second-to-last place of the Western Conference, to sell high on Grant's stock. He's an older role player putting up career numbers and can become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.

Grant's cap hit fits the Flyers' plans and he wouldn't block the team's future down the middle given his expiring contract.

The Flyers very well may be happy enough with 21-year-old Connor Bunnaman's play. And if they want more offense, Morgan Frost is heating up at AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley (three goals, two assists in last five games). The 2017 first-round pick could take over third-line center duties, while Scott Laughton would give the Flyers tons of depth at fourth-line center.

But if they want more experience and a player enjoying his best offensive season yet, Grant is a nice option. Adding him would likely only require trading a lower-round draft pick.

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