Kevin Hayes got paid. A lot.
The Flyers locked up Hayes, a center and one of the biggest targets from last season's trade deadline, to a seven-year deal worth $50 million. The contract has an average annual value of $7.14 million. That makes him the third highest-paid Flyer, after Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek.
Hayes is 27 years old and will be 34 when the contract expires. His previous contract had an average annual value of $5.175 million.
Hayes played for the Rangers for the first four and a half years of his career. He was traded to the Jets on Feb. 25. for Brendan Lemieux and a first-round pick in 2019. With Hayes set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, the Flyers acquired Hayes from the Jets in exchange for a 2019 fifth-round pick in order to negotiate a new contract with him before the opening of free agency on July 1.
Hayes had 14 goals and 28 assists in 51 games with the Rangers last season, and five goals and eight assists in 20 games with the Jets. He scored one goal two goals and one assist in six playoff games as the Jets were eliminated in the first round.
The signing reunites Hayes with Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault, who coached Hayes in New York. Hayes has four goals and five assists in 17 career games against the Penguins during his time with the Rangers.
Early reactions to the deal on Twitter weren't great:
Kevin Hayes finished the season as the 119th ranked NHL forward
Hayes isn't a bum by any means, but giving him north of $7 million for 6 years isn't a move I am excited by
Don't see the Flyers advancing past the 1st round still with the current roster, disappointing 48hrs pic.twitter.com/UMZ2iA9Tpq
— Flyers Nerd (@FlyersNerd) June 19, 2019
Kevin Hayes Dec. 1, 2019 (2 options):
A. 3 games played (lower body injury) 1G 1A
B. 23 games played, 2G 7A
— joe м (@dr_pizza_MD) June 19, 2019
In which Kevin Hayes, a 27 year old who has broken 20 goals once and 50 points once, now has the 18th highest AAV for a center in the NHL.
Unrestricted Free Agency. Catch the FEVER, BABY! https://t.co/o6XTxRlHTB
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) June 19, 2019
... or they were positive, depending on the perspective:
Can’t be true 50 million for a bottom 6 center wow ! Great agent !
— Arron Asham (@TheRealAsham45) June 19, 2019
The Flyers have $22.9 million in projected cap space for next season with eight forwards, six defensemen, and two goaltenders under contract. The deal brings the Flyers' total spending to $60.1 million, which likely will just put them over the projected salary cap floor for 2019-20.
Hayes' older brother, Jimmy, has 334 games of NHL experience and played for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last season.
"It's really cool to have a younger brother with that much success," Jimmy told me. "He's really become an elite NHL player, it's cool to watch him and have his name be one of the biggest free agents on the market. Especially this year, he's just a kid that continues to impress people."
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