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February 28, 2023

Flyers trade rumors: Market 'heating up' for Kevin Hayes

Carolina, Colorado, and Minnesota are believed to have been in contact, per the Daily Faceoff, and the Flyers would be willing to retain some salary in a potential deal.

Just when things looked quiet around Kevin Hayes, trade interest may have shot right back up. 

Per the Daily Faceoff's Frank Seravalli, the market has "heated up" around the Flyers' veteran forward, with Carolina, Colorado, and Minnesota among the teams believed to have been in contact. 

The catch, however, seems to be that the Flyers would have to – and are reportedly willing to – retain some of Hayes' salary in a potential deal, though how much would depend on the return. 

Wrote Seravalli, who ranked Hayes No. 3 on his trade board Monday:

The market has heated up on the rangy, All-Star center in the last 24-48 hours with intelligence that the Flyers are willing to retain some salary on a transaction in order to facilitate a deal. How much? That depends on the return, and it’s a big ask for the Flyers to retain for the next three years. Carolina, Colorado and Minnesota are among the teams that have been in touch with the Flyers on Hayes. He has a 12-team ‘no-trade’ list and none of those aforementioned teams appear to be on it. Hayes has size, plays a diligent and responsible two-way game, and changed the playoff performer narrative in the 2020 bubble with the Flyers with 13 points in 16 games. Hayes is also only due $17 million in real cash over the final three years of his deal relative to the nearly $21.5 million in cumulative cap hit. [Daily Faceoff]

Hayes signed a seven-year, $50 million deal with the Flyers ahead of the 2019-2020 season, and according to CapFriendly, he has three years left at a cap hit of just over $7.1 million after this season. 

The 30-year-old was Philly's lone representative at the All-Star Game a few weeks back, and his 17 goals and 48 points are both second on the team behind the now-injured Travis Konecny, while his 31 assists lead the club. 

This season has been far from smooth sailing, however. Under John Tortorella's first year behind the bench, Hayes has been hot and cold, benched and scratched, moved out from center to the wing and up and down the lineup.

And since coming back from the All-Star break, he has just two goals and an assist in 10 games of a brutal stretch for the Flyers where they have gone 2-7-1. 

Still, he has size at 6-foot-5 and 216 pounds, deceptive skating, and an offensive touch that would serve well on a speedier, playoff-bound team like the Avalanche or the Hurricanes. 

General manager Chuck Fletcher met with the media on Tuesday and talked about the Flyers' future with a priority toward getting younger, just a day after Tortorella was blunt about the state of the team, flat-out saying they're not making the playoffs and that the mission is to build tomorrow. 

Fletcher was clear that the Flyers were selling ahead of Friday's trade deadline, said they were listening and would be open to retaining salary on any potential deals, and when asked about whether it fits to move Hayes on the organization's current timeline – be it before the deadline or over the summer:

"Yeah, potentially. It's a fair question," Fletcher said. "It'll depend on the market and opportunity and fit, but again, I think we're – I've expressed to teams: 'Look we're open to ideas and we're willing to listen on lots of different types of scenarios.'

"So without addressing Kevin specifically, because I don't know if it's fair to single out names, but clearly we'd like to get even younger if we can. If we can do that, then we're gonna try to do that."

Hayes is also fully aware of the Flyers' current trajectory and where he might stand in the bigger picture. After all, he has been in this situation before.

Back in 2019, on an expiring contract with a then-rebuilding Rangers squad, his name was all over the rumor mill until he was eventually dealt to Winnipeg.

The circumstances are a bit different now, with Hayes being older, having a few years left on his current deal, and a no-trade list on top of it, but the general uncertainty the week of the deadline brings is still the same, along with how a player navigates it when it's their name out there. 

"I'm not really discouraged," Hayes said after an optional practice at the Flyers' training center in Voorhees. "No disrespect to the players, but the organization needs to make decisions that they think are going to help them, and that sometimes means that players need to go. I could be one of them. 

"I'm not discouraged about trade rumors at all. We can argue it's a good thing, you can argue it's a bad thing, so I just try to stay even keel about it. Whatever happens, happens. There are worse things in life."

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