Toronto Maple Leafs: Is Zach Hyman on the Right Line?

BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 5: Zach Hyman
BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 5: Zach Hyman /

The Toronto Maple Leafs are now 6-1 after seven games.

Zach Hyman, arguably the best left winger on the Toronto Maple Leafs, has been suiting up consistently on a line with John Tavares and Mitch Marner.  But is this the best combination?

In the first period of last night’s game, Tavares had a 2-on-1 with Mitch Marner.  What seemed like a sure thing goal turned out to be a blunder when Tavares issued a drop pass that surprised everyone on the ice, including it’s intended recipient, Zach Hyman.  Hard to blame Hyman for being surprised, but it made me wonder – should the Leafs have a more skilled player on this line?

Zach Hyman earned his spot on the Matthews and Nylander line last season by being the player who went and got the puck and passed it to one of the other players. He might not have a ton of offensive skill, but he’s a great puck retriever and in his career he’s put up some decent peripheral numbers.

He brings balance and grit to an otherwise lightweight, skilled Leafs team.  But is he really a top six performer? Playing on the Leafs first line last season, he scored 15 goals and 40 points.  Not terrible, but also not first line numbers.  While he does a lot of things right, he isn’t a finisher and his lack of skill is in heavy contrast to his both sets of linemates he’s had during his time in Toronto (Matthews/Nylander and Tavares/Marner).


I like Zach Hyman, but it’s worth asking if the Leafs should employ a more skilled player on this line.

Shooting is not the only thing Zach Hyman is lacking in comparison of his line mates, it’s also the speed. He is not quite fast enough in his skating ability to keep up with Tavares or Marner. Maybe an Andreas Johnsson would be more ideal to play with those two as he is one of our faster players who has been under performing. A bump up to the  line with Tavares and Marner might be what the rookie needs to perform at the pace he was projected to.

When it comes to left-wingers, the Toronto Maple Leafs are fairly weak. Patrick Marleau is no longer a top six forward at 5v5, and Zach Hyman probably isn’t either, despite the team’s early season success.  Andreas Johnsson may just be a rookie, but he has the highest potential of any left wing on the roster.

The Toronto Maple Leafs should try him out with Tavares and Marner.

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Obviously it would be difficult to shake things up when the Leafs are dominating and scoring four goals per game, but for the long term success of the team, the Leafs have to do better than Marleau and Hyman as their top two left wingers.  Giving Andreas Johnson a shot on the line with Tavares would be a great start to correcting this deficiency.

All stats were from Hockey Reference