Kevin Hayes is an NHL All-Star for the first time in his nine-year career. He will represent the Flyers as part of the Metropolitan Division squads in Miami. It hasn’t been announced who he will line up with during the festivities, but NHL.com suggests it would be with Islanders’ Brock Nelson and Hurricanes’ Andrei Svechnikov. It has also not yet been revealed as to what he will participate in during the skills competition.
Hayes has had an up and down year this year. Heck, he’s had a very different sort of career here in Philly. But it all culminates this weekend in Florida.
He arrived in Philly in 2019. He had played most of his career, at that point, for the Rangers, but was flipped to Winnipeg as a trade deadline deal that netted New York a first round pick, a fourth round pick, and Brendan Lemieux. The Flyers traded a fifth round pick to get the negotiating rights to him and signed him to a seven year, $50 million contract.
When he signed the deal, there were a lot of detractors. They felt that super star money shouldn’t be paid to someone who wasn’t a star. Up to that point, he had only scored 20+ goals once (2017-18). He was seen as a good player, maybe a second-third line performer, but not the main guy.
When he arrived, he immediately became best friends with Gritty. He scored 23 goals his first season and 41 points. And then COVID happened. When the season resumed and the Flyers were in the playoff bubble, he scored four goals and had nine assists in 16 games as the Flyers just fell short of an Eastern Conference Finals berth.
In the following season, he got COVID. Then he got hurt. He tried to play through it and was unsuccessful. Not only did he suffer stats wise, he made the injury worse. The following season, he had to deal with the aftermath of the tragic passing of his brother Jimmy. He was nominated for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy in recognition of his perseverance through the hard times.
This year was supposed to be his bounce back year. And in many ways it is. Currently, he 15 goals and leads the team with 30 assists. His 45 points are his most since 2018-19; his last as a Ranger/Jet. He recorded his first hat trick at the NHL level.
But this year has had some other issues. He was benched in a loss earlier this season by Coach John Tortorella. Then, as the team continued to struggle, he was scratched. Tortorella said that he was “trying to awaken the center within“. Hayes disagreed and was upset because, at the time, he was the Flyers top scorer. Since the benching, he has played better, albeit streaky.
Supposedly, the Flyers are “open” to trading him. It is not clear if he has asked for a trade or not. What would the team get in return with three years left on his deal? Who knows? If he wants to stay, he could be a valuable player. He can be the leader that Torts, and Chuck Fletcher, envision he can be.
Either way, Hayes will represent us all this week and Florida and we know he will make us proud. Maybe he’ll surprise everyone and, like Wayne Simmonds before, return with the MVP trophy.