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Daily Times beat writer Anthony J. SanFilippo takes you inside the locker rooms of the Philadelphia Flyers and the rest of the NHL.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

STRANGE TRIP FOR HYKA COULD LEAD TO CONTRACT

When Tomas Hyka makes it to the NHL, he'll have a funny story to tell about his road getting there.

Hyka was announced as one of 15 training camp cuts by the Flyers Monday. He was slated to be returned to Gatineau of the QMJHL, his junior team and preseumably, since he had joined the Flyers in camp as an undrafted free agent on an amateur tryout contract, would end up going unsigned before the October 1 deadline and then be eligible for the 2012 draft.

Hyka packed up his gear and was in a car on the way to the airport to fly back to Gatineau to start working out with the Olympiques when his phone rang. It was Flyers G.M. Paul Holmgren.

Holmgren told Hyka there was a mistake and that he wasn't waived. He should report back to the Flyers.

Meanwhile, nobody bothered to explain this to Gatineau, and the Olympiques coach Ben Groulx was confused that Hyka hadn't returned for practice Wednesday morning as expected.

Instead, Hyka was in the Flyers lineup at Wells Fargo Center against the Toronto Maple Leafs, playing wing alongside Claude Giroux, who starred at Gatineau before making the leap to the NHL.

"We thought about drafting Hyka in the third or fourth round," one Flyers executive told me prior to the game. "But the draft goes in a lot of different directions all the time, and sometimes you forget about guys - and that's what happened with Hyka.

"By the time we realized he was still on the board it was the seventh round and we were debating between him and a big and tough kid (Derek Mathers) and we decided to draft the tough kid hoping we could get Hyka into camp as an undrafted kid. It worked out for us."

Hyka has done nothing but impress the Flyers with his skating ability and his skill, but has really been a surprise with his puck possession skills for such a small player.

"I think the knock on him going into the draft was his size," said the Flyers exec. "But we don't think that's going to be a problem for him. He actually reminds a lot of us of Giroux a little bit in that way."

Hyka, 18, is 5-10, but needs to put on some bulk, weighing just 158 pounds. The native of the Czech Republic had just one goal in 13 games with Mlada Boleslav BK of the Czech Elite League last season and played two games this season for Gatineau, registering one assist.

The Flyers wanted to give him a look in a game situation before deciding if they want to offer him an entry level contract, which, according to a team source, is something the Flyers are seriously considering.

If they do, that will make something else he and Giroux have in common. Giroux's name escaped then-Flyers' GM Bob Clarke when he went to announce the Flyers' pick at the 2006 draft. Hyka was mistakenly put on a cut list by the Flyers' staff.

If they sign Hyka, he will be the second 18-year-old to sign with the team in camp as first round pick Sean Couturier signed a three-year, entry level deal with the team earlier on Wednesday.

The Flyers are at the limit on allowable contracts (50). However, neither Hyka nor Couturier would count against that limit until they turn 20 or play in their 11th NHL game, whichever comes first.

If, though, veterans like Adam Mair or Michal Nylander, both of which are in camp on a professional tryout contract, were to sign with the Flyers, the team would have to waive or trade somebody to get them on the roster.

2 Comments:

Blogger Simon said...

Love the kid....good hands, good wheels, and gotta love that 'i can't hear you....' celebration pose after he scored. Nice goal, too! why not sign him to the bare minimum and see what happens!

September 22, 2011 at 10:21 AM 
Blogger Simon said...

looks like this snafu is going to cost the Flyers....he can't be signed as a FA because he's an european pro that is under the age of 22. He'll have to enter the draft next summer. This is the third time this year the flyers have botched a contract under NHL rules.

September 23, 2011 at 3:25 PM 

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