Kevin Hayes Traded to Flyers; Winnipeg Acquires 5th-Round Pick in 2019 NHL Draft

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 4, 2019

FILE - In this March 10, 2019, file photo, Winnipeg Jets right wing Kevin Hayes (12) shoots the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals, in Washington. Thirty-two players were involved in 20 deals struck at the NHL trade deadline on Feb. 25. The Winnipeg Jets led the way in completing six trades, including acquiring veteran center Kevin Hayes from the New York Rangers. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)
Nick Wass/Associated Press

The Philadelphia Flyers announced the acquisition of center Kevin Hayes from the Winnipeg Jets on Monday in exchange for a fifth-round pick. 

"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," Flyers executive vice president and general manager Chuck Fletcher said.

John Shannon @JSportsnet

Sounds like the Flyers don't have anything in place just yet to sign Kevin Hayes...Fletcher trying to get ahead of the process...to see if there is a mutual fit...Not much risk in giving up a 5th...Remember AV coached him in NY.

Elliotte Friedman @FriedgeHNIC

Nothing imminent with Kevin Hayes and PHI. But, as this trade signifies, PHI will make a run at keeping him.

Hayes, 27, notched 19 goals and 36 assists in stints with the New York Rangers and Jets during the 2018-19 season, posting a career-high in total points (55). He's also familiar with new Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault, playing under him with the Rangers in his first four seasons.

He scored a career-high 25 goals with the Rangers in the 2017-18 season.

For the Flyers, signing him to a long-term deal would give them a much-needed upgrade at center behind Sean Couturier.

Charlie O'Connor @charlieo_conn

Welp, Flyers trading for Kevin Hayes' rights. There's their 2C target. We'll see if they can lock him up. https://t.co/ztg422mTNm

It's the first move in what should be a busy offseason for the Flyers after a disappointing 2018-19 campaign that saw the team finish with just 82 points, sixth in the Metropolitan Division. It was the fourth time in the past seven seasons that Philly failed to reach the postseason, and the Flyers haven't gotten past the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs since the 2011-12 campaign.

There are building blocks in place, however. Couturier posted 76 points for a second consecutive year, while Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek remain major threats on the wing and 20-year-old Carter Hart looks like the goalie of the future.

The Flyers have some work to do. But if they're able to sign Hayes this offseason to bolster their center depth, it will be a solid start.