Could Flyers’ Hayes head to the Blue Jackets this summer?

Flyers' Kevin Hayes All-Star
SUNRISE, FL – FEBRUARY 04: Metro Kevin Hayes (PHI) (13) smiles after a goal during game two of the Honda NHL All-Star Game between the Metro and Atlantic Divisions on Saturday, February 4, 2023 at FLA Live Arena, Sunrise, Fla. (Photo by Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire)

The 2023 NHL Trade Deadline is now behind us. The Philadelphia Flyers were going to be ‘selling’ according to general manager Chuck Fletcher, and it made sense. Shipping out expiring contracts for assets was supposed to be the plan to begin a rebuild, but it didn’t work out as expected.

Fletcher only made three trades before last Friday’s deadline:

  • Isaac Ratcliffe went to the Nashville Predators for ‘future considerations’
  • Zack MacEwen went to the Los Angeles Kings for a 2024 fifth-round pick and Brendan Lemieux
  • Patrick Brown went to the Ottawa Senators for a 2023 sixth-round pick

James van Riemsdyk nearly went to the Detroit Red Wings, but Fletcher said the trade offer was conditional. It would’ve went through if Steve Yzerman could move another forward, but since he didn’t, the potential trade for van Riemsdyk was off the table.

Fletcher received calls about multiple players. One name teams checked in about was Kevin Hayes. It was unlikely Hayes would be traded at the deadline, but Fletcher was willing to listen.

Hayes has three years remaining on his contract with a cap hit of $7.142M. He mentioned he would rather stay in Philadelphia than play for a contender while trade deadline rumors swirled. Long term plans remain unclear, but a clearer picture could present itself this summer.

“I would probably lean more toward staying.”

Kevin Hayes; 2/28/2023

Hayes to Columbus?

Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman provided interesting comments about Hayes on ’32 Thoughts: The Podcast’ last Saturday regarding trades that didn’t happen at the NHL Trade Deadline.

Marek mentioned ‘soft talks’ between Philadelphia and the Columbus Blue Jackets regarding Hayes. The Carolina Hurricanes were interested also, but those discussions didn’t travel far. Columbus wants a center with experience to build around, and Hayes makes sense:

“Like Carolina, I didn’t think that went very far. But, I have heard Columbus. Columbus is gonna look for a center with some more experience. There are people in that organization who think very highly of Kevin Hayes.”

Elliotte Friedman; 3/4/2023

Hayes has familiar company in Columbus. Johnny Gaudreau was his former linemate at Boston College. Rick Nash is the director of player development for the Blue Jackets, who played with Hayes on the New York Rangers between 2014-2018.

Before Fletcher decided he was out on Gaudreau, Hayes was clearly in favor of the potential free agency signing. Following those comments from Friedman on ’32 Thoughts: The Podcast,’ it seems a reunion between the two Boston College teammates is a possibility. The Blue Jackets are a top contender to win the Connor Bedard sweepstakes, and the presence of Hayes in the locker room might help build a new foundation in Columbus.

Approaching the final weeks of the 2022-2023 campaign, all eyes are focused on potential prospect recalls, the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, and the upcoming free agency market. Hayes was an interesting name to follow ahead of the trade deadline, and he’ll continue to pique interest this summer.