PHILADELPHIA -- The Flyers' badly kept secret is out: They officially have signed center Kevin Hayes to a seven-year, $50 million contract.
General manager Chuck Fletcher confirmed the deal Wednesday. It carries a $7.14 annual cap hit, making Hayes the team's third-highest-paid player, behind Claude Giroux ($8.28 million) and Jake Voracek ($8.25 million).
"He plays a smart two-way game and is just entering the prime of his career," Fletcher said. "Kevin will add size and speed to our lineup."
The 6-foot-5, 216-pound Hayes is expected to be the Flyers' second-line center, pushing Nolan Patrick (13 goals, 31 points last season) down to the third unit.
Hayes, 27, had a combined 19 goals and a career-high 55 points in 71 games last season for the New York Rangers and Winnipeg Jets. The Flyers acquired his rights earlier this month by sending a fifth-round draft pick to Winnipeg, hoping to sign Hayes before he became an unrestricted free agent July 1.
The former Boston College star played for Alain Vigneault with the Rangers from 2014-18. Vigneault, of course, is the new Flyers coach.
Hayes had a career-best 25 goals for the Rangers in 2017-18.
The Flyers have $60.1 million earmarked for just 16 players, and the cap is expected to be at around $82 million. They still want to sign five restricted free agents -- Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Travis Konecny, Scott Laughton, and Ryan Hartman -- along with a backup goalie.
By adding Hayes, Matt Niskanen ($5.75 million), and Justin Braun ($3.8 million) and retaining $1.01 million toward Radko Gudas' traded contract, the Flyers, provided they don't make any more trades, won't have much money to spend in the free-agent market when you factor in the restricted free agents they are expected to sign.
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