Every so often, when you think that you know almost every player in the NHL, a Kevin Hayes comes along. I have to admit when the Flyers signed him in 2019, I really didn’t know too much as far as his stats or play style. So just like every curious fan or writer, I went to the internet. I looked up his stats, and I wasn’t wowed at all. One 25 goal season with the New York Rangers, and some sub-par seasons as I wondered what the Flyers were actually getting and why!
Then I saw new GM Chuck Fletcher wrap Hayes up for 7 years, $50 million, and I was like, huh? Really? Kevin Hayes? Man, was I slacking! His play, leadership, and toughness all solid traits that typically equate to a winning formula. His 2019-2020 season was one to remember, scoring 23 goals in what would become a Covid shortened regular season. This guy can score, deceptively hard to move off the puck in the offensive zone, and plays mean. His success continued as the Flyers made a run in the postseason. In 13 playoff games, Hayes had 4G 9A for 13pts. He was also a +7 in the playoffs. Plus/minus is a key stat, not only to see what a player brings offensively, but also can he play a two-way game? Hayes didn’t disappoint.
At times in last year’s playoffs, when Hayes was on the ice, I had confidence that the Flyers would get solid offensive zone pressure as he clearly became the Flyers’ top forward in a six-game series win vs. the Habs and an unfortunate seven-game series loss to the New York Islanders. With Giroux, Voracek, and TK struggling to put the puck in the net, I started to realize that Hayes was slowly becoming the Flyers’ top goal scorer. Still, can he be consistent?
As we have entered the 2021 shortened season (56 games), Kevin Hayes has picked up right where he left off the previous season. In 10 games so far, Hayes has five goals, five assists, and a plus-three with a shooting percentage of 21.1%. Hayes has quickly become my favorite Flyer taking over for Wayne Simmonds and Ron Hextall. You can’t teach players that love to play physical and angry. I’m sure the Flyers and our fan base are as equally excited as I am, along with his new favorite fan in, Gritty. Hayes jokingly tweeted that he would boycott the season if his pal Gritty wasn’t allowed in the arena due to obvious restrictions in most arenas where no one is allowed in the stands. Gritty was granted permission in Wells Fargo Center thanks to Kevin Hayes. Hopefully, Hayes stays in the orange and black for some time.
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire