3. Zach Hyman
Coming off ACL surgery in the 2019 offseason, many expected 2019-20 to be a washed year for Hyman, taking most of the year to continue his rehab and get his knee back to full health.
Not only did the Toronto native come back stronger and better than ever, he finally entrenched himself as a fantastic complement to the Leafs best players.
During Mike Babcock’s tenure in Toronto, the veteran coach made some questionable decisions. And while towards the end his relationship with management and the fanbase began to sour, one decision he made that did not receive enough credit in its time was the support he gave to Hyman.
Early on, fans were confused as to why Hyman, someone the average fan had never heard of, kept receiving ice time along with Matthews/Nylander or Tavares/Marner. Babcock continued to preach Hyman was the ultimate glue guy and could transform any line from good to great, but the results were proving otherwise.
Once Babs was fired and Keefe took over, he tried to move Hyman further down in the lineup, however, Hyman kept clawing and pushing to be put back on Matthews’ line, forcing Toronto’s head coach to concede that putting the 28-year old back on the goal-scorer’s wing was his rightful spot.
Hyman, who missed 19 games to start the year, still finished fourth on the team in goals with 21 (stats; NHL.com), also tying a career-high.
Should he have played a full 82-game season, Hyman would have registered 34 goals and 60 points, absolutely crushing both of his career highs.