The Flyers may have found their No. 2 center on Monday night.
They acquired Kevin Hayes from the Winnipeg Jets for a fifth-round pick in the June 22 draft. Hayes is a pending unrestricted free agent on July 1, but this will give the Flyers an early start in attempting to sign him.
The 6-foot-5, 216-pound Hayes had a combined 19 goals and a career-high 55 points in 71 games with the New York Rangers and Winnipeg last season. He blossomed with the Rangers when they were directed by Alain Vigneault, now the Flyers’ coach.
A former star at Boston College, the Massachusetts native had a career-best 25 goals with the Rangers in the 2017-18 season, which was Vigneault’s last year as New York’s head coach. Hayes spent his first four seasons with Vigneault.
The Flyers are hoping for a similar situation that developed in June 2007, when they acquired pending unrestricted free agents Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell from Nashville and quickly signed them.
Hayes, who turned 27 last month, had a $5.175 million salary-cap hit last season.
If the Flyers are able to sign Hayes, he will probably be the No. 2 center, pushing 20-year-old Nolan Patrick to the No. 3 center role. Patrick scored 13 goals in each of his first two seasons.
In his career, Hayes has 92 goals, 229 points and a plus-28 rating in 381 games.
The Jets acquired Hayes before the trade deadline by sending a first-round 2019 draft pick, a conditional fourth-rounder in 2022, and left winger Brendan Lemieux to the Rangers.
Originally selected by Chicago in the first round of the 2010 draft, Hayes helped Boston College win the NCAA title in 2012.