Will the Philadelphia Flyers buyout Kevin Hayes as rift grows with Torts?

Kevin Hayes
Dec 5, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Flyers center Kevin Hayes (13) walks to the ice for warmups against the Colorado Avalanche at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

John Tortorella benched his leading scorer, Kevin Hayes in a big game against the New York Rangers this past Saturday. It appears things have finally come to a head regarding the hard-nosed coach and his top forward, who is sometimes precarious with the puck.

“I can’t keep looking by things because we’re worried about scoring,” Torts said. “I’ve got to look at the big picture of what this team is going to be, what the standard is of how we play. So that far outweighs losing some offense in a particular game.”

When asked about being scratched, Hayes didn’t hold back his feelings.

“I’m never going to say there’s a benefit to being benched,” Hayes said. “I’m sorry. I don’t think I should have been benched, but it’s not my decision. He’s the coach. I’m a player. He makes the lineup. He wants the best team on the ice to ultimately win and that’s what he went with that night.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Kevin Hayes buyout?

kevin hayes
Jan 6, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Flyers center Kevin Hayes (13) against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The situation between Torts and Hayes has now become a hot topic in the NHL. Elliotte Friedman spoke about it on his latest 32 Thoughts Podcast with Jeff Marek and stressed how Torts does not like Hayes’ play away from the puck.

Hayes, 30, has three more years on his deal with an AAV of $7.142. Could a buyout be looming this summer?

“I looked at Hayes’ contract and in his deal, there’s about 14 million in bonuses. Almost all of that is paid off,” Friedman said. “I can’t help but look at this contract and say, is this going to be a buyout at the end of the year? At the end of the year if he get’s bought out….maybe he can go find somewhere else to play.”

According to CapFriendly, if the Flyers choose to buyout Hayes they will save $4.8M in 2023-24, followed by $2.3M for the next two seasons after. They will then have -$1.6M cap hit from 2026-27 to 2028-2029.

Hayes leads the Flyers in scoring with 29 points in 31 games this season. Should he become available in the summer, he probably won’t be a free agent for long.

Ultimately, it may be wiser to trade him at the deadline with 50% salary retained. Yes, it will mean less of a savings for the next three seasons, but avoids dead cap space until 2029. Plus Philadelphia could get back a high draft pick and a prospect with that kind of a move.

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