The trade deadline has come and gone, but rumors surrounding the Columbus Blue Jackets continued to swirl well after the final buzzer. Elliotte Friedman noted on his 32 Thoughts podcast that there is “real smoke” around Kevin Hayes to Columbus talk. A day later, Aaron Portzline of The Athletic reported that Jarmo Kekalainen is making finding veterans an offseason priority. It certainly sounds like Hayes is in Jarmo’s crosshairs, so let’s take a look at what that deal could look like and if it’s a good idea.
First off, who is Kevin Hayes? He is a 30 year old 6’5” center that was drafted by Chicago in the first round of the 2010 draft. He was also a teammate of Johnny Gaudreau’s at Boston College. He was recently named an NHL All-Star for the first time in his career and currently has 17 goals and 32 assists for the Flyers this season, tied for his career best in both categories. His cap hit is $7.14m and he is signed through the 2025-26 season.
He’s a big body and an experienced player, but there isn’t really any part of his game that stands out. At almost 31 years old, he is about to hit 50 points for the first time. His career possession stats aren’t overly impressive - in his 8 seasons he only has 2 where his Fenwick (unblocked shots for versus against) is over 50%. He’s not great at the faceoff dot either, with a career win percentage of 46.3. He’s not a bad player, but he’s likely not some magical piece that makes the team significantly better.
So why trade for him? Unfortunately, Jarmo has a recent history of looking for veteran players that don’t move the needle talent wise (see: Erik Gudbranson). I’m not sure what Kevin Hayes does for this team besides add size down the middle. I guess it’s possible that Jarmo swings a trade that matches his value, but surely the Flyers would ask for the Kings’ pick acquired in the Gavy/Korpi trade plus a player or prospect, especially with Hayes coming off of a career year.
This team is lacking legitimate top six centers, but the best place to find those players is in the draft. The Jackets already have Kent Johnson, Cole Sillinger, Dmitry Voronkov, and Luca Del Bel Belluz and could add Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli, Leo Carlsson, or Will Smith in this year’s draft. It’s hard to imagine some combination of those players not filling all three top nine center spots sometime in the future.
The argument for finding a center now would be that this team needs a veteran voice for the young players. But isn’t that Boone Jenner and Sean Kuraly? The young prospects need time to develop, I get that. It’s reasonable to try and make the team better now as long as any assets you give up don’t hurt the long-term future. If a player that fits an immediate need becomes available, go after him, but I can’t imagine giving up anything of significance for Kevin Hayes.
Should the Blue Jackets trade for Kevin Hayes?
This poll is closed
Depends on the price
What do you think about the Kevin Hayes rumors? Let us know in the comments.