Maple Leafs: Losing Zach Hyman Means Losing Their Heart and Soul

Zach Hyman, Toronto Maple Leafs (Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports)
Zach Hyman, Toronto Maple Leafs (Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports) /

Since acquiring him back in 2015, Zach Hyman has become the Toronto Maple Leafs heart and soul.

Every coach loves the players that do all the dirty work. Few would say they don’t want winger Zach Hyman on their team. The Toronto Maple Leafs have the luxury of having him at their disposal.

While he is not known as a points player, he contributes more to the offense than you would think and is the role player that helps Toronto’s top players play at their best. Over the years, he has emerged as the heart and soul of the team.

Since joining the team in 2015, he has developed to become a lethal 200-foot player. It is impossible not to notice the workhorse on the ice.

Toronto Maple Leafs and ZachHyman

There is not one player in Toronto that is more versatile than Hyman. He spent time on the power play, penalty kill, and split time between the team’s top three lines. That’s because what he offers improves every line.

His aggressive style of defense puts pressure on the opposition. That contributes to his 2.20 blocked shots per 60 minutes. He goes as far as diving across the ice as a goaltender does.

While the hometown player only has 0.67 takeaways per 60 minutes, his impact forcing turnovers goes beyond that. His linemates come away with the puck after Hyman forces the opposing player into an uncomfortable situation. That is by forcing a bad pass or pinning the player to the boards.

The hustle he has on the forecheck translated to his offensive game. His points per game have steadily increased year-to-year since becoming a Maple Leaf.

He finished the 2019-2020 season, averaging 0.73 points per game. Even though it dropped to 0.56 points per game this season, he is still getting good chances. With that, his points can increase, especially if he plays more minutes on the top two lines. (

In the locker room, the scrappy forward has become a leader. His value among his teammates led him to wear an “A” on his jersey when Toronto dons their retro and “St. Pats” jerseys.

Zach Hyman is worth more than his contract

The part-time assistant captain’s contract will expire this offseason. He signed a four-year contract paying him $2.25 million per season in 2017. Now, he can earn north of $3 million per season.

Hyman is a better player than some players making $3 million per season right now. Among them is a former Leaf that signed with the New Jersey Devils as a free agent on a three-year $3.4 million deal in Andreas Johnsson.

Toronto will have $13.3 million in cap space next season, but seven starters need new contracts. General Manager Kyle Dubas must make it a priority to bring back the 28-year-old.

$13.3 million is enough to ensure the seven players return, with the option to find an upgrade in free agency. The Leafs without Hyman is like watching a Kevin Hart movie without The Rock. It will still be a good movie, but not as good as it could be.

I can’t see the Toronto Maple Leafs without Zach Hyman on their roster. When the team needs a spark, Hyman makes a play. When the team can’t get anything going offensively, Hyman forces a turnover in the offensive zone.

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Because of his value to the team, I expect his return next season. Blood, sweat, and battling through injuries earned him his reputation since his time with the Toronto Marlies. Now, with the Toronto Maple Leafs, he is the heart and soul of the team.