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Penguins Trade, Full Analysis: Dubas Acquires Kevin Hayes, Pick From Blues

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Pittsburgh Penguins trade, Kevin Hayes

LAS VEGAS — There was no salary holdback. Moments, after the Pittsburgh Penguins selected a pair of WHL prospects with the 44th and 46th overall picks in the 2024 NHL Draft, president of hockey operations/GM Kyle Dubas, swung his first trade of the offseason. The Penguins acquired hulking forward Kevin Hayes from the St. Louis Blues.

The details of the trade confirmed Dubas’s words on Friday when he claimed the team would not be looking for long-term contracts. St. Louis affixed a 2025 second-round pick to Hayes, and the Penguins will absorb St. Louis’s share of Hayes’s salary.

Hayes, 32, carries a cap hit of only $3.571 million because the Philadelphia Flyers agreed to pick up 50% of his more than $7 million salary when they traded Hayes to St. Louis last summer. Hayes and coach Philadelphia coach John Tortorella weren’t seeing eye to eye, and Hayes did not fit with the rebuilding Flyers.

Hayes has two more seasons remaining on the deal.

He is, in several ways, Jeff Carter’s replacement. Carter retired following the 2023-24 season.

Penguins Trade Analysis

The Penguins get the hulking Hayes, who is 6-foot-5 and 216 pounds. However, Hayes does not always use his size to his advantage. He’s more of a complementary player than a rugged center. He can also play LW.

In 79 games last season, Hayes scored only 13 goals with 29 points. He largely functioned as St. Louis’s third-line center. His integration with the Penguins lineup would seem to be as a bottom-six center or winger. He hasn’t been a primary penalty killer in a few years and played just 15 minutes shorthanded in the 2023-24 season.

The Penguins’ acquisition lessens their salary cap space to approximately $7 million, but they have not yet qualified or signed defenseman P.O Joseph.

With the 2025 second-round pick, the Penguins have a pick in every round, though they do not have their own rounder, which Dubas used in the Erik Karlsson trade.

The Penguins lineup got a little better. Hayes will have value, and he won a whopping 57% of faceoffs. In theory, he could skate on the Penguin’s second line with Evgeni Malkin, providing faceoff support, or play a down-line role in the middle, taking important faceoffs in the final minutes–just as Carter did.

It’s not a great trade, but it adds faceoff support and fulfills Dubas’s stated intent to recoup as many picks as he could as urgently as possible. The largest downside is that the second-rounder cost the Penguins about $7 million over two years, and Hayes is somewhat redundant with Lars Eller and Noel Acciari in the Penguins lineup. Hayes will also presumably take a lineup spot that could have been filled with one of the Penguins’ prospects, such as Sam Poulin or Vasily Ponomarev, lessening the available spaces for the young players.