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Report: Arbitration hearing likely for Panthers, Hayes

Totonto Maple Leafs v Florida Panthers

SUNRISE, FL - APRIL 10: Jimmy Hayes #12 of the Florida Panthers prepares for a face-off against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the BB&T Center on April 10, 2014 in Sunrise, Florida. The Panthers defeated the Maple Leafs 4-2. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

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It appears that Jimmy Hayes and the Florida Panthers are likely to go all the way to salary arbitration, according to a report by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov.

There’s no word yet on how wide the divide might be between the Panthers and the towering 24-year-old forward. Hayes is scheduled to go through that process on Tuesday, so there’s plenty of time for the two parties to bridge the gap.

Hayes was originally a Toronto Maple Leafs second-round pick (60th overall in 2008) but was flipped to the Chicago Blackhawks for a second-rounder in 2010. He played a total of 43 games over three seasons for the Blackhawks, including two with Chicago in 2013-14 before ultimately being flipped to the Panthers as part of the Kris Versteeg trade.

He already topped his most noteworthy Blackhawks totals in that short time with Florida, scoring 11 goals, 18 points and generating 18 penalty minutes in 53 contests. Hayes’ 2013-14 salary was $687,500 at the NHL level.

Fialkov points out that it could be a competitive training camp for Hayes and other Panthers forwards:

Including Hayes, the Panthers have 14 forwards on the roster, as well as young forwards such as Rocco Grimaldi, Vincent Trocheck, Garrett Wilson and Quinton Howden all vying for potential roster spots.

Interestingly, Hayes’ younger brother Kevin Hayes also faces contract-related uncertainty this summer.

Follow James O’Brien @cyclelikesedins