One of the greatest things about the NHL offseason is all of the rumors. This person is getting interest by this team. This team is looking to sell this team. This guy wants a big contract or a trade out. Which are true? Who knows. But if you are a Philadelphia Flyers fan, you have been reading a lot of rumors lately.
The one thing we do know was true was that Ivan Provorov was traded to Columbus in a three team deal. But among the rumors following the trade was that Columbus had also inquired about Kevin Hayes as part of a separate deal.
This doesn’t come as a lot of surprise. A story had come out after the trade deadline that the Blue Jackets had interest in the disgruntled Flyers all-star center. At that point, both teams decided that they could spend more time working on a trade to move Hayes to Ohio and send something back to Philly. And with the two teams working on trading Provorov, the Hayes deal was still on the backburner.
However, recent developments may have thrown a bucket of ice water on that rumor. In addition to acquiring Provorov in order to shore up their defense, the Blue Jackets traded a third round pick to New Jersey for defender Damon Severson. They then signed Severson to an eight year deal that will pay him $6,250,000 a season.
Here’s why that Severson trade affects Philly. After signing Severson and trading for Provorov, the Jackets have just $5.8 million left in cap space. They also have two restricted free agents, Oliver Mathieu and Tim Berni, left to re-sign. Hayes’s contract pays $7.1 million. That’s a bit more than what Columbus has left to spend.
So, if Hayes is going to go the Jackets, either the Flyers will have to eat a lot of that salary and/or take on a salary from a CBJ player who is older and not really worth it instead of acquiring picks or prospects that they would’ve really desired. Or, Philly might have to involve a third team again to move assets around. In most cases, it seems as if the Flyers may have to eat some of his salary, but they can’t afford to pay all/most of it.
All of this seems to suggest that the Jackets have prioritized their defense. With that said, they are now almost financially cash strapped before the free agency season really gets underway. Moving Hayes to Columbus now seems to be very unlikely based on their current situation. And maybe that’s a good thing. I’d hate to see Hayes go to a divisional rival and become a star. It’s better for him to become a start on a team the Flyers don’t see as much.
Likewise, if CBJ’s position is that weak, I’d hate for the Flyers to settle on trading him just to trade him (in a Chuck Fletcher sort of move). We don’t necessarily have to trade Hayes, but if Hayes is moved, it’s best to get the best deal for him. Right now, it looks as if Columbus doesn’t have much to offer.