Bill Meltzer: Meltzer’s Musings: Saturday Quick Hits

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QUICK HITS: AUGUST 16, 2014

* Former Chicago Blackhawks first-round pick Kevin Hayes is now an unrestricted free agent after failing to come to terms with the team on an entry-level contract.

Drafted by Chicago in the first round of the 2010 Draft, the 6-foot-3, 205 pound Hayes is coming off a spectacular senior season at Boston College.

Riding shotgun to Johnny Gaudreau (now with the Calgary Flames), Hayes posted 27 goals and 65 points in 40 games last season. As a junior, Hayes had 25 points in 27 games despite serving a suspension from the team mandated by coach Jerry York for violating team rules.

Although NHL teams have some wiggle room in terms of signing and performance bonuses, there will not be major financial differences in the entry-level contract offers Hayes receives from the clubs bidding for his services.

Relative to other types of contracts in the NHL, entry-level contracts operate under specific constraints designed to keep all clubs leaguewide on equal financial footing in negotiations. Under the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the Players Association, we already know that Hayes’ eventual contract will be a two-year deal and he can receive a maximum yearly base salary of $900,000.

The trickier part of an entry-level contract is the bonus structure. Under CBA rules, players on entry-level contracts are eligible both for signing bonuses and performance bonuses. By rule, the signing bonus may not exceed 10 percent of the contract’s total compensation. There is more negotiating room on the structure and amount of various performance bonuses but even those have a total-value ceiling ($2.85 million).

The 22-year-old Hayes’ ultimate choice will come down to where he thinks he will get the most playing time in the short-term future, where he can make the most money in his second contract as a restricted free agent and where he feels the most comfortable playing. He will have no shortage of options in the days to come.

Hayes probably would have struggled to get top-six minutes with Chicago. However, there have been rumors that the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers are among the teams that are the most interested in Hayes, and he might face similar situations there as well next season. The Colorado Avalanche are also said to be among the top contenders for Hayes’ services. Hayes’ brother, Jimmy, plays for the Florida Panthers but the club is not reputed to be among the serious suitors.

Considering the Flyers’ lack of forward prospect depth in their farm system, suspect depth on the wings at the NHL level and Hayes’ combination of size and scoring potential, it would not be a stretch to believe the It is not a stretch to imagine that the Philadelphia Flyers would be among the NHL teams interested in Hayes. However, Philly would have a lot of competition for the Boston native and have not been mentioned among the top suitors.

None of the rumors necessarily mean anything in terms of the player’s ultimate destination. It is also worth noting that with a bonus cushion in place in the salary cap and as an entry-level contract player, there is room for creativity even for a team that is tight to the salary cap ceiling. Hayes could be assigned to the AHL in a paper move until long-term injured reserve list moves are made (Kimmo Timonen and Chris Pronger in the Flyers’ case).

* Former Flyers left winger Simon Gagne has accepted a tryout invitation to the Bruins’ training camp in September. Gagne ended up sitting out last season after an ill-advised off-season strategy of only considering a return to the Flyers (who opted to go in another direction). The 34-year-old Gagne has a lengthy history of concussions and other injuries but used to be among the top two-way wingers in the NHL. He posted five goals and 11 points in 27 games after coming back to the Flyers from the LA Kings during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. For his NHL career, Gagne has posted 597 points in 799 regular season games and 59 points in 109 playoff matches.

* Puck Daddy contributor Harrison Mooney wrote an article on 10 players who could potentially take the Art Ross Trophy away from Sidney Crosby in 2014-15. The list includes the likes of fast-emerging Dallas Stars standout Jamie Benn, his linemate Tyler Seguin, former Art Ross winner Henrik Sedin, and Edmonton’s former first overall draftee Taylor Hall. Flyers captain Claude Giroux, who finished third in scoring in the NHL last season and was a Hart Trophy finalist despite an extremely slow offensive start, did not make the list.

* Today in Flyers History: On Aug. 16, 1979, the Flyers traded Bernie Parent’s longtime backup goaltender, the late Wayne Stephenson, to the Washington Capitals in exchange for a third-round pick in the 1981 NHL Draft. The Flyers used the pick to select the late Barry Tabobondung.

The 1981 Draft was held at the Montreal Forum. Tabobondung was so excited to be chosen by the Flyers in the third round that he attempted to jump over the front row of seats to get to the Flyers’ draft table. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it.

Tabobondung’s foot got trapped in a folding seat, and he could not extricate himself. It took

Flyers representative Joe Watson and two arena employees to get the player freed from his predicament. Finally, one of the arena workers unscrewed a portion of the chair and Tabobondung got free.

“We gotta play this kid. Obviously we can’t afford to let him sit,” joked Flyers coach Pat Quinn.

Tabobondung, who was built like a fireplug at 5-foot-9 and 200 pounds, was a tough and game player. Nicknamed Hawk, he was a full-blooded Ojibway. The effusive Tabobondung became an immensely popular member of the Maine Mariners in the AHL for parts of two seasons but never made it to the NHL. The converted defenseman played 132 games for the Mariners, posting 13 goals, 45 points and 209 penalty minutes.

Tragically, Tabobondung passed away at the age of 39 in an horrific roadside accident in the Wasausking First Nation. Tobobondung, who was working with the road crew, brought along his eight-year-old son, Tommy. As the two rode in the cab of a road grader, Tommy fell out of the vehicle. The father jumped out of the cab to rescue his son before he got run over. Barry saved Tommy’s life, but got trapped under the vehicle’s back tires. Barry was pronounced dead at the hospital. His son survived with a broken leg.

This post originally appeared on www.hockeybuzz.com and we thank them for permission to rebroadcast it here.

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