The Toronto Maple Leafs Need to Keep Zach Hyman

Jan 4, 2020; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman (11) is greeted by team mates at the bench after scoring against New York Islanders in the third period at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 4, 2020; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman (11) is greeted by team mates at the bench after scoring against New York Islanders in the third period at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Toronto Maple Leafs Cannot Afford to Lose Zach Hyman.

When Zach Hyman was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Greg McKegg on June 19, 2015, nobody knew the player he would become.

As a 5th round draft pick of the Florida Panthers, Hyman was not known by many hockey fans as he was finishing his college career at the University of Michigan, where he was a Hoby Baker finalist as the top player in college hockey.

After a successful and brief stint with the Toronto Marlies, the Toronto native was given his first shot to play in the NHL by former Leafs head coach Mike Babcock. In his first full season with the Leafs in 2016-17, Hyman played with Auston Matthews and William Nylander where fans learned about his importance to the team.

The thing that separates Zach Hyman from the rest of the Leafs core players like Matthews and Nylander is not his pure skill, but hard work and determination on every shift. Even in his first year with the team, when Hyman was on the ice he would forecheck, backcheck and work harder than anyone else in the game.

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Zach Hyman

His play and tenacity at even strength and on special teams won him a job with the young Leafs, and he has not looked back since.

Hyman’s biggest flaw from his first few seasons in the NHL was his stickhandling and finishing ability. Fast forward to this season and he has fixed those issues with his game. He has never played better, and the statistics back it up. In his last 72 games with the Leafs, Hyman has 50 points, has been the team’s best (forward) penalty killer and is now anchoring his own line.

Head coach Sheldon Keefe has put Hyman on the third line to elevate it whenever the team has been fully healthy. Of course, Hyman would look amazing with Matthews and Marner or Tavares and Nylander, but he now has the necessary skill and ability to anchor his own line.

For the past couple of games, the line of Zach Hyman, Ilya Mikheyev and Pierre Engvall has been the checking line that Keefe has been wishing for since training camp. Their hard nose style of play is a nice change of pace from the first two lines. The “Z-I-P” line can beat other teams with their speed on the breakout, puck possession in the offensive zone and defensive capabilities.

While the focus of the first place Toronto Maple Leafs team should be winning the Stanley Cup this season, many people are starting to become anxious about Hyman being selected by Seattle in the expansion draft or leaving Toronto for more potential money in free agency on the open market.

His style of play is rare in a league that is starting to become dominated by skilled players. All Leafs nation can hope for is that he really loves playing for his hometown team. His entire family lives in Toronto and frankly, I don’t think Hyman wants to be playing in any other sweater but the blue and white.

Please Kyle Dubas, figure out a way to sign this man to a long term contract. Zach Hyman is one of the core players we have had since the beginning of the current rebuild.

dark. Next. The Leafs Top Priority

His value to the team is as simple as if the Leafs ever needed a goal or were protecting a lead late in a game, you can bet a lot of money that Zach Hyman would be on the ice in both scenarios.