It hasn’t quite been a full season for Kevin Hayes in a Flyers uniform. But so far, he has fit in well in Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia Flyers made headlines when they signed Kevin Hayes to a seven-year contract. There were immediate comments on how it was an overpayment and that the team would regret it. And then there was that rumor he only came to Philadelphia for the money.
But in the end, Hayes embraced the city of Philadelphia and he has been welcomed with open arms. It was a slow start to the season, though, and those early thoughts crept back in. Hayes had just one point in his first six games this season. Coming off a career-high 55-point season, expectations were high and he wasn’t delivering.
It didn’t get much better through the Flyers’ first 20 games. Hayes had just seven points. Things would improve, though, as we began to see where his contributions would come. His puck possession skills alone were impressive. But it was his work on the penalty kill that helped turn that unit around. Once a sore spot for the Flyers, the PK unit became one of their most improved areas.
Hayes was just three goals away from setting a new career-high. With 13 games remaining in the season, there was almost no doubt he was going to hit that mark. He had four goals in his last seven games before the pause. That mark had him second on the team in goals. Using Hockey Reference’s adjusted stats, Hayes could’ve possibly finished with 28 goals and 49 points. That would tie the second-highest point total of his career.
The 41 points he currently stood with were right around where he had been averaging each season. And while more may be expected from him after the contract he signed, he gave the Flyers what they needed. With uncertainty still surrounding Nolan Patrick, Hayes came in and held things down at the center position. That allowed Claude Giroux, for the most part, to remain on the wing.
The analytics don’t favor Hayes, but his overall numbers have never been high. A career 48.4 CF%, he finished just above that mark this season. He was in a similar situation when it came to his Fenwick. He sits at a career 48.4 FF% and was almost at that exact mark this season. So his advanced numbers don’t paint the entire picture. But we cannot ignore them, of course.
It could be an area of improvement for Hayes. It was his first season under a new system and with a new team. But it isn’t the end all be all for him. His numbers have been relatively average throughout his entire career.
Aside from all of that, Hayes became a big part of the locker room both on and off the ice. The team trusted him as a leader and he has earned all of that trust.