Fantasy Take: Kevin Hayes Signs in Philadelphia
Fantasy Impact: It was reported late on Tuesday evening that the Flyers got their man. After dealing for his right ahead of the free agency window, Philly was able to convince the 6'5 center to sign on the dotted line but providing seven years and 50 million dollars. The 7.14 million Kevin Hayes will earn each season makes him the third highest player in Philadelphia and fourth to be making more than 7million per year.
The Flyers Get: The guy they were after. The Flyers handed over a 2019 fifth-round selection to the Jets in order to gain the exclusive negotiating rights to the 27-year-old. Trading for a player mere days away from dipping their toe in the market is often a risky maneuver. More often than not, it ends up being a sunken cost. Not this time, however. Hayes earned himself more than expected on a max deal. According to Evolving-Hockey, the projection for Hayes on a seven-year contract was 6.7 per. This is a boatload of money to give to a player who has just once scored 20 goals and surpassed the 50-point mark. He now becomes the 18th most expensive centre in the league. The Flyers may not look the part of contender, but with their core in (or just leaving) their statistical primes, Chuck Fletcher and co. are clearly putting everything out there in an attempt to push for Stanley Cup glory.
The real question now becomes, how does this impact the forward group? With that kind of monetary commitment, one can naturally assume that the former Chicago draft pick will be given consistently prime deployment. However, it's unlikely he'll supersede Sean Couturier as the first line pivot, and as such, Hayes will be skating with secondary winger options. Fortunately, for Hayes owners (and Flyers fans) Philly has nice winger depth. Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny will have the inside track to that top line, leaving Hayes to work with a likely combination of Jakub Voracek and James van Riemsdyk. That's not a bad place to be at even-strength.
The power play deployment is where things will get dicey. There isn't a clear spot on the half wall for the distributing forward. He's likely left to quarterback the second unit – thus deflating his value. He was stuck in a similar situation in Winnipeg where his even-strength linemates were chalked full of talent, but his role on the second power-play unit kept him hovering around the 50-point production level.
What this deal means for former second overall selection, Nolan Patrick is anyone's guess. The 20-year-old was making strides in his overall game but had struggled to produce consistent offensive output. He now slots in as the team's third line centre and will have to fight for a spot on the second power-play unit. He's a prime candidate for the Flyers to dangle in trades in an attempt to truly go for it.
With Hayes and Erik Karlsson off of the free agent board, and Jacob Trouba now on Broadway, the market is quickly shifting. It appears a great deal of moving and shaking will continue leading up to the draft in Vancouver this weekend. The following day, the tampering window opens for teams to speak to free agents ahead of July 1. It'll be a busy time in the NHL and we'll have you covered with all the fantasy fall out.
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