Toronto Maple Leafs: Remember How Zach Hyman Defied the Odds

Zach Hyman #11 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Montreal Canadiens during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on April 7, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Canadiens 3-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Zach Hyman #11 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Montreal Canadiens during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on April 7, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Canadiens 3-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

Money Can’t Buy Everything, but for Zach Hyman, it may have purchased his ticket to play in the NHL and for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Toronto Maple Leafs will look very different without one of its key forwards who has been with the club for the past six seasons, Zach Hyman.

With the organization allowing other teams to speak to and negotiate with the pending unrestricted free agent, it appears that his time in the Big Smoke may be close to expiring.

The Leafs have enjoyed the energy their resident children’s book author brings on the ice, but thanks to his supposed asking price, the club cannot afford to keep him. Since he might only be a Leaf for only a few more days, we will remember how Hyman beat the odds and made the NHL.

Toronto Maple Leafs and Zach Hyman

Big credit to Hyman’s success needs to go to his father, Stuart Hyman. Stuart was well known throughout the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL), the minor hockey organization that runs A – AAA competition. In January of 2015, he was suspended by the league after its investigation over his ownership of multiple teams. He actually had over 90 of them but was forced to withdraw his ownership of the clubs.

The National Post wrote about it, providing a profile on the Porche driving minor hockey league tycoon. At the time, Zach was 13 years old.

"[Stuart’s] father had been a wealthy developer, and Mr. Hyman (Stuart) had a real-estate firm and a vending-machine company. Then there was the hockey empire. Mr. Hyman is a hockey dad, with five sons who play the game. And he could obviously afford the best — right down to buying a team for each boy. Mr. Hyman had apparently paid significant amounts of money to acquire teams that traditionally operated as non-profit operations."

Zach and his brothers may have benefitted from their father’s ownership of hockey teams. Most players who have played Junior hockey (many AAA players as well) can tell you how politics plays a role in how much ice time someone receives. It is important to note that there’s never been a coach who has spoken publicly to say that there was any pressure to treat Zach differently.

Junior Hockey

What we do know is that when Zach graduated from playing Minor Midget AAA for the Toronto Red Wings in the GTHL, he was not drafted into the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). Instead, he went to play for one of his father’s teams in the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL). He joined the Hamilton Red Wings where he was named rookie of the year by the team. One year later, Zach committed to join Princeton University.

Around that same, Stuart made another key acquisition. In March of 2010, he bought International Scouting Services (ISS), which scouts and ranks draft-eligible players. The timing was perfect since three months after the acquisition, the NHL would use the help of ISS to build their draft boards for finding the right players to select.

Stuart’s business, ISS ranked Zach as their 120th best prospect. The Florida Panthers took him in the fifth round, making him the 123rd overall pick of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. The ISS ranking that may have helped sway the Panthers was curious because NHL Central Scouting who ranked the top 210 North American skaters didn’t even have Zach listed in their group. There’s a big discrepancy between 120 and 211 (at best).

While there may have been some help along the way, Zach still needed to do the work. It’s not easy to make the NHL as a fifth-round draft pick but he did it.

After being drafted, Zach returned to Hamilton where he was named the team’s captain and became their leading scorer. He was also named the Player of the Year in the CJHL.


Things didn’t go the way Hyman had planned for University. When Princeton’s coach left the institution to coach Penn State’s inaugural season as a Division I NCAA team, Hyman decided he was through with the program as well. He de-committed from the ivy league school and instead decided to go to the University of Michigan.

With the Wolverines, Hyman improved each season reaching as many as 17 points in his junior year. Then, as a senior, everything came together for him. He had 54 points in 37 games on 22 goals and 32 assists.

Hyman’s play was good enough to catch the eye of the Toronto Maple Leafs amateur scouts. Liking what they saw, Co-GM’s Kyle Dubas and Mark Hunter famously negotiated one of the franchise’s biggest deals of the decade and traded for Hyman.

Turning Pro

In his first year with his new organization, Hyman played 59 games in the American Hockey League (AHL) for the Toronto Marlies. He recorded15 regular-season goals and 22 helpers for a total of 37 points. In the playoffs, Hyman continued to produce. He registered six points on three goals and three assists in 15 games. Hyman’s production was good enough that he earned himself 16 games in the NHL with the Leafs. He averaged 15 minutes and 41 seconds of ice time through those games where he potted four goals and two assists.

The very next year, Hyman was a full-time NHLer. He played in all 82 games and proved that that’s where he belonged. Hyman wasn’t just a regular in the league, he was an important part of the team. Perhaps the reason Hyman is such a strong character player and such a hard worker is that he always had to prove to everyone that he was making it on his own accord.

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It’s been a great run in Toronto for Hyman. Through hard work on and off the ice, he endeared himself to Maple Leafs fans and more importantly, to his team’s coaches. If this truly is the end of the line for Hyman and the Toronto Maple Leafs he will have accumulated 345 games played with 86 goals and 99 assists for a total of 185 points. He will be remembered fondly for his time with the organization.