Kevin Hayes is a good player who has talent. His biggest problem is his drive and overall passion for the game. While Hayes may find it somewhere else, I fully believe he won’t find it here. Ex-GM Chuck Fletcher brought Hayes in to be a big piece to Alain Vigneault’s roster. While under AV, Hayes was a good piece, especially when he wasn’t asked to be a top line center.
Unfortunately for Hayes, he is being paid like a top line center and eating cap space that could be used for players who could make an actual impact and fit the timeline of this team’s rebuild blueprint. There are also similar players to Hayes who could be available in the free agency market this upcoming offseason that the Flyers could obtain.
This has nothing to do with Hayes as a person. Honestly, I felt like Hayes brought a personality to this team and a sort of light heartedness to the locker room. When it comes time for a team and player to split, sometimes the writing is on the walls and this case, it has been Hayes lack of interest, demeanor and overall play as a center and being forced to play the wing has been the biggest cause of his rift that started with him being benched by Tortorella. Seeing him respond as he did just tells you that its time for him to go.
This has been brewing for quite some time. It most likely started last season where he felt like he was playing like a number one defenseman and couldn’t understand why the fans didn’t think so. Even some of the other distractions I will not get into. The diva act is something a team like the Flyers could do without in their current situation. Whether or not Provorov will continue be like this is uncertain.
At this point, Cam York has been showing a lot of upside and promise, especially if he can play with a true number one defenseman to help him learn how to become one himself. Provorov’s overall play has been disappointing for him claiming to be a number one defenseman. Whether he is turning the puck over in the defensive zone or just taking too long to make a play, this season has proven he is a mirror player.
Provorov is on a pretty friendly deal and can get you a decent couple of picks or players in a package to help set this team up for the future. This team needs players who are team first guys and who are willing to be a part of a rebuild and eventually, something special. There are plenty of young defensemen in the system who are ready to take the leap and get the chance to play on this roster. It is time to stop overvaluing Provorov and accept that he is at his ceiling.
Felix Sandstrom has been nothing short of a disappointment. While Sandstrom has been decent, he really only has had one good game this season. That was on March 9th against the Hurricanes where he only gave up one goal on 29 shots. Sandstrom came right back down to Earth and gave up nine goals in his next two games.
Sam Ersson has been vying for that backup spot and to be honest, he has earned it. While the Flyers couldn’t afford losing a goalie, having Sandstrom back up Carter Hart this season has been good for Ersson to get more time as the starter in Lehigh Valley with the Phantoms. I really don’t believe there is a big market for Sandstrom. Unless a team wants a project goalie, he will be perfect for them, otherwise, I don’t see Sandstrom making the team next year.
Travis Sanheim has not been the same player we saw last season. In all honesty, Rasmus Ristolainen has been the better player of the two this season. It just seems like Sanheim is lost and currently in a labyrinth. While it seems like he begins to find himself escaping, he tends to fall deeper into himself and loses all signs of confidence.
The Flyers may be willing to give him another chance next season, but the extent of that chance might not be that long. As in Provorov’s case as well, there are kids looking to crack the lineup and John Tortorella is not afraid to play them. Sanheim was benched earlier in the season and has still been up and down. I have high hopes for Sanheim to find his game again, but we won’t know until next season if they do keep him.