Flyers: Hayes’ Injury Situation Could Lead to Opportunity for Frost

After already dealing with losing Ryan Ellis for the next 4-6 weeks, the Philadelphia Flyers now have to deal with finding a long-term replacement for Kevin Hayes as he is officially listed as week-to-week. Hayes missed all but two games this season after undergoing abdominal surgery that held him out the first 6-8 weeks of this season. After those 6-8 weeks were up, he returned to the Flyers lineup for two games against the Dallas Stars and Calgary Flames, in which he recorded two points (1G,1A) on an average of 14 minutes played per game.

His return was much anticipated as he provides a jump in scoring for the Flyers when he is in the lineup. Overall, the Flyers are 31-3-2 in games that he scores a goal in, including the playoffs, so his presence in the lineup is more important than ever. His absence will prove to be a difficult spot to fill if he is out longer than expected.

Hayes Returns in Emotional Victory

In his first home game in front of a full capacity crowd since March 2020, he scored what would easily become the most memorable goal of his career. He scored part way through the second period of the game against the Flames. After the goal, he pointed to the sky in honor of his late brother Jimmy Hayes, who died on Aug. 23 at the age of 31.

“It was a big goal, trainers got the puck for me,” Hayes said during the postgame interview. “I’m going to give it to Jimmy’s son Beau and it’ll be one I remember for forever.”

During the same period, he left the game after his right leg twisted in the wrong direction tangled up with the stick of Flames forward Elias Lindholm. He would go down the tunnel to be evaluated by the training staff but would return to finish the game for the start of the third period. 

“I was a little in panic mode there but talked to the trainers and figured it out,” Hayes said following the game.

What Went Wrong for Hayes?

Hayes missed Thursday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning with an undisclosed injury, but no one really knew what was going on. Shortly after the game concluded, Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault confirmed that Hayes’ absence from practice was injury-related, but he would not be able to share more information until 48-72 hours after the game. 

He wound up being scratched from Saturday evening’s matchup with the Boston Bruins, but the team still did not have any more information about his status. (from ‘Flyers still embracing ‘next-man-up mentality’ with second-line center Kevin Hayes absent from morning skate,’ Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/20/2021).

Kevin Hayes Philadelphia Flyers
Kevin Hayes, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

“He’s a pretty elite player for us,” winger Joel Farabee said of Hayes. “He brings a lot, I think, off the ice in terms of just his energy and how he lifts guys up and things like that. When he’s not playing, it’s definitely a hole to fill. I think just the story of this year has just been that next-man-up mentality.”

As reported by Sam Carchidi, Hayes took the trip to Florida with the team but was not expected to play against the Lighting and Florida Panthers. On Monday afternoon, the team finally announced that he would be week-to-week after suffering a re-injury vs. Calgary on Nov. 16. With Hayes being out a minimum of the next couple of weeks, the Flyers are scrambling to find a replacement to fill his role.

Potential Replacements for Hayes

With Hayes officially out the next few weeks, the Flyers are going to have to come up with a long-term replacement quickly. Fans on social media are suggesting that forward Morgan Frost, who is currently with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, be called up to fill the role. Frost currently has 15 points (3G,12A) in 16 games played this season. While he would certainly be a viable candidate to fill the role of Hayes, is he a long-term replacement option?

Frost has not had the chance to truly prove himself at the National Hockey League level just yet in his career, so this is the perfect opportunity to allow him to do so. Not only are the Flyers giving him the chance to prove himself, but they are able to allow him to gain valuable minutes at the highest level of hockey.

This move is almost a no-brainer for the Flyers as they have already tried to fill this spot with Max Willman. He has done a decent job of filling this spot in the lineup, there are better players, like Frost, available to also fill this role. It will be interesting to see what the Flyers do as they are on the road for a couple of games in Florida, but it would not be surprising to see him join the team shortly.

Morgan Frost Philadelphia Flyers
Morgan Frost, Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

While no plans have been released for who will fill the role while Hayes is hurt, it is worth keeping an eye on because it is only a matter of time before Frost pulls that orange and black jersey over his head once again. While it is certainly difficult losing one of the best players on the ice in Hayes, the Flyers need to make the best of the situation and replace him with the best option.

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