Reports Indicate That The Columbus Blue Jackets Are Interested In Acquiring Philadelphia Flyers Center Kevin Hayes This Offseason

By Dan Dukart on March 6, 2023 at 10:15 am
Philadelphia Flyers center Kevin Hayes
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL trade deadline has come and gone, but the Columbus Blue Jackets are still in the news.

On the popular SportsNet podcast 32 Thoughts, co-host/NHL insider Elliotte Friedman doubled down on his reporting from last week (20:00 min mark) that the Blue Jackets may be interested in acquiring Philadelphia Flyers' centerman Kevin Hayes. 

Friedman's co-host, Jeff Marek, pointed out that given the terms on Hayes' contract, which has three more years after this season with a $7.14M AAV cap hit, such a deal may make more sense to be completed in the offseason, where cap maneuvering is easier than in-season. Perhaps uncoincidentally is that by trading Jakub Voracek's contract to the Arizona Coyotes, the Blue Jackets cleared more than $8M worth of cap space, in advance of what is thought to be a transformational off-season.

Hayes, who turns 31 this spring, is having a productive season with 49 points in 62 games played. He has clashed at times with Flyers coach John Tortorella and was made a healthy scratch earlier this season. Hayes notably has a history with Blue Jackets star forward Johnny Gaudreau. The duo played three seasons together at Boston College and were incredibly productive on the Eagles' top line. In 2013-14, Gaudreau posted 80 points in 40 games and won the Hobey Baker Award. That same season, Hayes posted 65 points.

The Blue Jackets' center-ice position has been an area of concern for years, and it's not difficult to imagine the entire depth chart being revamped this offseason. The hope is that one top-six center slot is solved this spring by way of the draft lottery. KHL import Dmitry Voronkov is thought to be in the mix for a bottom-six center position, with Sean Kuraly filling the other bottom-six slot. The club has other options as well, including the expected return of Alexandre Texier or the improved play of Kent Johnson, to say nothing of incumbents at the position, like Boone Jenner, Cole Sillinger, and Jack Roslovic. 

In other words, what the team is really looking for is a stop-gap (or better) in the top six down the middle. Hayes, who has shortcomings, could be that fit.  

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