Flyers Should Target These 2 Centres to Replace Hayes

The Philadelphia Flyers are once again plagued with another significant injury after Kevin Hayes lands on the injured reserve after just his second game of the season. This is bad news for the team as they will need a long-term solution if they want to compete down the stretch and in the postseason.

Their next-man-up solution has them staying afloat around the middle of the pack. They will need that extra boost if they want to get over that hump and compete in the toughest division in the NHL. Hayes’ new injury lists him as week-to-week, so he could be out for a significant amount of time after suffering a re-injury.

The Flyers could look internally to fill the void if they don’t think Hayes’ injury will keep him out for too long, or they can look externally and bring in some elite talent to give them some confidence this year and possibly after that. There are two centres that have come up in recent trade rumours as their contracts are either close to finishing or the team is struggling and may want to look to the future.

The cost for this level of talent will be significant, but that is the price you have to pay to win championships.

J.T. Miller Adds Scoring to a Struggling Offence

J.T. Miller’s name has come up recently in trade rumours surrounding the Vancouver Canucks after their horrible start. He has always been able to score and put up points, but the opportunity he was provided in Vancouver allowed him to really break out and become a near-point-per-game player over the past three seasons, recording 137 points in 141 games.

J.T. Miller, Vancouver Canucks
J.T. Miller, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Flyers have only scored 25 goals in the past 13 games, good for a 1.92 goals per game. That number won’t fly in today’s NHL, especially not in the Metropolitan Division. If it so happens that Hayes is out very long-term, the Flyers should be willing to pull the trigger on some immediate help and not waste any games.

No knock to Derick Brassard, but at this stage of his career, he is not a second-line centre anymore. In a bottom-six role, he can thrive and provide more to the team in easier matchups (“Flyers still embracing ‘next-man-up mentality’ with second-line center Kevin Hayes absent from morning skate”, Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov. 20, 2021). Acquiring Miller would provide the Flyers with a one-two punch of Sean Couturier and Miller with a ton of help on the wing. If Hayes returns sooner than expected or at all this season, Miller is an option to slide over to the wing and really reinforce the forward depth.

In return to the Canucks, it depends on what direction they’re looking to head with their team, a rebuild or a retool and start fresh next season. I can’t see them starting another rebuild so soon after acquiring Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland. In either case, a roster player and a high-end prospect could entice the Canucks to send Miller out. He does have another year left on his deal at a very fair price, so the cost would be pretty big but worth it to acquire a solution that isn’t just a rental.

Sharks Sell High on Rental Player Hertl

The other high-end name that has been thrown around for longer than Miller is Tomas Hertl. He, like Miller, has the ability to play both centre and wing if it comes to that. Hertl is a rental player with just a little higher cap hit, but still fair. He has proven he can put up points in the past, scoring 35 goals and 74 points in 77 games during the 2018-19 season. He has been a part of a struggling team over the past couple of years, hurting his production.

Tomas Hertl San Jose Sharks
Tomas Hertl of the San Jose Sharks (Photo by Kavin Mistry/NHLI via Getty Images)

Put in a position to succeed with some more experienced players, sheltered a bit on the second line, he should be able to thrive in Philadelphia. This would create great matchups. With many larger contracts on the Flyers extending past this season, the rental tag that Hertl would have should work great for them. Their captain, Claude Giroux’s contract is up after this season, so the Flyers would give themselves some options to stay at full power if one were to walk in free agency this summer.

Related: 3 Trade Destination for Canadiens’ Gallagher

The San Jose Sharks are in a retooling phase of their own after it seems very tough to rebuild with so many large contracts tied to older players. If they want to head more in that direction, the next step to get some valuable assets back would be letting go of Hertl, as there has been no indication that he is going to re-sign with the team.

However the Flyers handle their situation, this significant injury should be addressed sooner than later. Maybe they give Morgan Frost a second chance to prove himself right away, and if it’s not enough then they shop around for replacement in the short term.

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