Tomas Hyka will be sent to back to his junior club in Gatineau today after the Philadelphia Flyers learned that they cannot sign him to an entry-level contract, despite saying they were interested in doing so less than 24 hours ago.
As we outlined last night, the CBA prevents NHL clubs from signing undrafted European players who are under 22 years of age. He'll re-enter the NHL Entry Draft in 2012, where the Flyers or any other team can take him. If by some chance he were to be overlooked in the draft again next year, he could be signed as a free agent in the summer because he'll have played the 2011-12 season in North America.
We reached out to Barry Hanrahan and the Flyers late last night for comment on our story. We haven't heard back from the assistant GM, but he did go ahead and tell Tim Panaccio of CSN this morning that Hyka can't be signed, confirming our report. So there's that.
This was a brutal mistake by the Flyers. We're not going along with the assumption that they knew this was the case all along, either. A team source told Anthony SanFillippo of the Delco Times yesterday that they were looking to sign Hyka, and now all of the sudden they can't? Until we're led to believe otherwise, what other conclusion can we draw but that the Flyers didn't know this wrinkle in the CBA?
In the grand scheme of things, missing out on an undrafted 18 year old isn't the end of the world. But what makes it absolutely infuriating (besides the fact that they didn't understand the details of the CBA again) is that the Flyers knew Hyka was on the board in the seventh round of the 2011 draft, they thought about drafting him, and then decided to take big goon Derek Mathers instead.
In SanFilippo's story yesterday, the Flyers source he quoted made a comparison between Hyka and Claude Giroux. Whether that's fair or not, the comparison was made by somebody in the organization. And they chose a pair of fists over that. How does this make any sense?