Toronto Maple Leafs: Looking Back at the Hyman Trade

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 17: Andreas Johnsson
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 17: Andreas Johnsson /

The Toronto Maple Leafs used to be terrible at making decisions.

Whether it was drafting, trading, or signing free agents, it would be a stroke of luck if they got positive results from a transaction they made.

For example. Trading Alex Steen for Lee Stempniak. Tuukka Rask for Andrew Raycroft. The entire 2010 draft. They simply couldn’t make it work.

None of that matters anymore, however. Seeing that the Maple Leafs have a core set in place and are quickly becoming serious contenders with lots of talent still remaining in the pipelines.

Within the Shanahan regime, the Leafs have made some pretty solid trades. Essentially dealing Phil Kessel for Kasperi Kapanen and a first round pick and then turning that first round pick into Frederik Andersen looks to be the best of all of them.

But I’m going to bring you all back to the summer of 2015 and look at a deal that nobody really talks about, but turned out to be extremely beneficial thus far.

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The Trade

On June 23rd, 2015, the Toronto Maple Leafs acquired Zach Hyman from the Florida Panthers in exchange for centre Greg McKegg. Hyman was originally a 2010 fifth round pick of the Panthers but opted not to sign with them due to Hyman wanting an NHL job and Florida not being able to provide one.

So the Leafs were essentially like “we just tore down our entire team. Let’s see what you’ve got.”

Hyman, originally from Toronto, took a different career path to the NHL. He was playing for the Hamilton Red Wings of the OJHL during his draft year and opted to play college hockey for the University of Michigan.

He won the 2014-15 Michigan Athlete of the Year award, coming off an incredible season where he recorded 54 points in 37 games. He potentially could have won the Hobey Baker award if not for Jack Eichel’s astonishing season, putting up 71 points in 40 games.

Upon arriving at Maple Leafs training camp, Babcock was immediately impressed with Hyman’s work ethic and willingness to go hard into the boards and win puck battles, and ended up winning a job on the Leafs’ top line with Auston Matthews and William Nylander.

Hyman had his ups and his downs during the 2016-17 season. He wasn’t showcased offensively as much as some of his teammates, putting up 10 goals and 28 points in 82 games, but he did a lot of work behind the scenes that didn’t show up on the scoresheet, such as creating space and opportunity for Matthews and Nylander.

He also set two Maple Leaf records in his rookie season. He recorded the longest rookie assist streak in Leaf history with six games, and also recorded four short handed goals, the most by any Leaf rookie in history.

This season, Hyman has begun to round out his game and fix any flaws he may have had the season before. He’s surpassed his goal and point total from the year before, with 37 points through 74 games. He could potentially surpass 40 this year which is definitely acceptable.

What’s His Role Now?

When I think of the role that Zach Hyman plays for the Maple Leafs, he reminds me a lot of the role Chris Kunitz had for the Penguins while he was there. Take the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons for example. The Penguins could have easily loaded up their top line with their most offensively dangerous players, say Malkin-Crosby-Kessel for example.

But instead, they spread out their offense and stuck with Chris Kunitz alongside of Crosby because of his ability to play a hard forechecking game and create opportunity for Crosby.

Much like the Maple Leafs are doing with their current roster. You never see Matthews, Marner, and Nylander on the same line. Why? Because instead they’re spreading out their offense and using Hyman as a checking forward on that top line, which seems to be working out thus far.

Next: A Collection of 1st NHL Goals by Toronto Maple Leafs

So to recap, the Leafs gave up McKegg, who’s still in the AHL and has shuffled between teams farm systems since being dealt, and in return received a future 40-50 point, Kunitz type of player to compliment Matthews. And while I may not be an NHL executive, I think that’s a pretty good deal on the Leafs’ end.

Thanks for reading.

All stats obtained from