Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek were on Sportsnet’s 32 Thoughts podcast (20:00 mark) and had some interesting tidbits about deals that did not happen. One of them was the Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets briefly talked about Kevin Hayes.
Hayes is a 30-year-old center who has three more years left on his contact with a cap hit just north of $7MM. Though he is having a productive season with 49 points in 61 games played, he drew the ire of head coach John Tortorella earlier this season and was made a healthy scratch. With the Flyers struggling in the standings, they may be eager to move out some cap space, leading to the Hayes talks.
Marek said the two teams did engage in “soft talks” and he would not be surprised if this was something both sides revisited in the offseason. Friedman also mentioned that he could see negotiations ramping up once again at the NHL Draft.
The Blue Jackets opened up plenty of cap space for next season when they traded Jakub Voracek to the Arizona Coyotes. Voracek and sixth-round pick were swapped for goaltender Jon Gillies which gives the Blue Jackets $8.25MM more cap space in 2023-24. That is more than enough to bring in Hayes.
Hayes would also fit well alongside Johnny Gaudreau. The pair played three seasons together at Boston College, culminating in a Hobey Baker Award for Gaudreau when he scored 80 points in 40 games in 2013-14. Hayes had 27 goals and 65 points in 40 games that season. Gaudreau is in the first year of a seven-year contract with an annual $9.75MM cap hit. He has 15 goals and 55 points in 60 games, but the Blue Jackets sit at the bottom of the NHL standings.
These talks were only preliminary, but it would be interesting to see Hayes and Gaudreau reunited at the NHL level. Definitely something worth keeping an eye on in the offseason.