The Philadelphia Flyers are hoping to have Kevin Hayes tour their facilities in the near future with hopes of signing the 27-year-old forward before he becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1.
The Flyers acquired Hayes in a trade with the Winnipeg Jets on June 3 for a fifth-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. The first round is June 21 (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS). Rounds 2-7 are June 22 (1 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN).
"Certainly, we will have a lot more dialogue this week," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said Monday. "Next week is the week of the draft. This week will be an important week. I will certainly have more time to meet with him face to face.
"Had some good, I guess, preliminary conversations with Kevin and his representation. I expect to follow up with Kevin and his camp this week and we will see how it goes. I don't know how to characterize it other than we've had good conversation and we are hopeful we can make something work.
"I don't have a vibe, other than he's certainly open-minded. You have to remember he's two weeks away from getting to July 1, so that's a nice status to obtain in this league. Certainly, he's earned that right and we are respectful of that. I think we have a lot to offer in Philly. So we will continue to speak to him and I think he's open-minded to conversations, at least that is what his camp has said to us, and obviously we have strong interest in him."
Hayes had 55 points (19 goals, 36 assists) in 71 games with the Jets and New York Rangers this season. New York traded him to Winnipeg for forward Brendan Lemieux and two draft picks on Feb. 25.
Hayes could slot in as Philadelphia's second-line center, which would allow Claude Giroux to remain on the wing full time after playing both spots last season, and Nolan Patrick to have easier matchups as a third-line center. Hayes also could play on the power play and the penalty kill.
Video: Sam Carchidi on the Flyers acquiring Kevin Hayes
"[Hayes] brings a solid 200-foot game," Fletcher said. "He has been a very good penalty killer in this league. That's a scenario we would like to improve. He plays well away from the puck. He understands the game. He has hockey sense. He can contribute offensively. We gave up 281 goals [this season], we have to get better. We have to have more players that play a strong 200-foot game. I'd like to improve the penalty kill. Having depth through the middle of the ice will make us harder to play against. … I don't think there is anything more to say than that he helps us on both ends of the ice."
One thing that could work in Philadelphia's favor is coach Alain Vigneault, who coached Hayes for his first four NHL seasons in New York (2014-18).
"He's a guy who's familiar with our coach and our coach is familiar with him," Fletcher said. "If he signs, that will help. There shouldn't be any learning curve. He should step in seamlessly if we're able to sign him.
"I know Alain has a lot of respect for him and I know in speaking to Kevin that he enjoyed playing for him. I'm sure that will help, but I don't know that it's fair for me to characterize how much it will help."
Fletcher also plans to meet with the agents for the Flyers' restricted free agents -- forwards Travis Konecny, Scott Laughton and Ryan Hartman, and defensemen Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim -- while in Vancouver for the 2019 draft.
"It seems that market is becoming … a little bit more aggressively priced, I guess is the way to put it based on the last couple of years," Fletcher said. "We've had good conversations with the representation for all of those players.
"My sense is everyone is trying to wait for somebody else to do something. I don't think anything is going to happen quickly, but we are hopeful we will get everything done."