Sunday, June 4 2023
Despite being the Philadelphia Flyers leading scorer, Kevin Hayes has found himself in John Tortorella's doghouse on a few occasions this season. (Getty Images)
Despite being the Philadelphia Flyers leading scorer, Kevin Hayes has found himself in John Tortorella’s doghouse on a few occasions this season. (Getty Images)

On Saturday, Philadelphia Flyers’ forward Kevin Hayes was listed as a healthy scratch for their game against the New York Rangers. On top of sitting out the game, the team’s top points scorer—with 29 points in 31 games—has been benched three times already this season.

The centreman is enjoying his best offensive spell since his arrival in Philadelphia, but the Flyers have had an abysmal start to their campagain. They currently have the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference and the fourth-worst goal differential in the league, forcing head coach John Tortorella to consider some drastic action.

“I’m never gonna say there’s a benefit to being benched. I’m sorry. I don’t think I should have been benched, but it’s not my decision,” the 30-year-old told reporters on Monday. “He’s a coach. I’m a player. He makes the lineup, he wants the best team on the ice to ultimately win, & that’s what he went with.”

Hayes’ strong scoring output has not made him immune to defensive-zone errors. That all came to a head when he was moved to the wing with Noah Cates taking his spot up the middle. Tortorella explained the swap by saying he preferred Cates’ defensive responsibility compared to Hayes’ -12 plus-minus ratio—amongst the worst in the league.

If Hayes’ time in the City of Brotherly Love is seemingly coming to a close, a $7.1 million cap hit along with a limited no-trade clause makes him a difficult player to move. That’s why insider Elliotte Friedman offered the idea on his podcast 32 Thoughts that Hayes could see his contract bought out at the end of the season, allowing both parties to move on.

This would be a significant burden off the Flyers’ shoulders, who would have a cap penalty of $2.25 million in the first year, followed by $4.75 million in each of the next two years, and $1.6 million for the three final years.

Hayes’ best season in the NHL came in 2016-17 with the New York Rangers, in which he tallied 17 goals and 49 points in 76 games.

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