On Friday, the Florida Panthers announced that they had traded forward Zach Hyman and a conditional 2017 seventh-round pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for forward Greg McKegg in a move that may affect how the Panthers general manager approaches next week’s draft in Sunrise.
Hyman, 22, is coming off a breakout season in which he scored 22 goals and 54 points in 37 games as a senior with the Michigan Wolverines, and in addition to being a Hobey Baker finalist — handed out annually to the NCAA’s top men’s hockey player — he was also named to the 2014-15 All-Big 10 First Team.
Originally a fifth-round selection (No. 123 overall) in the 2010 NHL Draft, Hyman notified the Panthers earlier this offseason that he would not be signing with the organization, forcing the team to actively seek out a trade partner or risk losing one of their up-and-coming prospects to free agency on Aug. 16.
Due to the current nature of the CBA, Hyman was within his rights to reject an offer from Florida — the team that both drafted and developed him — in favor of what he believes could be greener pastures and a quicker path to the NHL.
It’s a disturbing trend that’s beginning to pick up steam around the league as several high-profile prospects have spurned their drafted teams in recent years. Earlier this week, Minnesota Gophers defenseman Mike Reilly informed the Columbus Blue Jackets that he would become free agent while Boston College forward Kevin Hayes rejected the Chicago Blackhawks in favor of the New York Rangers last summer.
"If that’s going to be the case, then there might be more and more Europeans taken [in the draft]," Tallon said Thursday from the BB&T Center. "We invest four years of meeting, talking and trying to help these young guys, and then for them to walk away, it’s not right. I don’t think it’s a good thing and that might influence your decision in the draft"
As for McKegg, the 23-year-old forward notched 22 goals and 37 points in 62 AHL games last season with the Toronto Marlies. He has four games of NHL experience under his belt, but is more likely to play for Florida’s AHL affiliate in Portland next season.