"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.
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.
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.