Toronto Maple Leafs: Zach Hyman’s Great Start Changes Nothing

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

The Toronto Maple Leafs were getting absolutely great value from Zach Hyman last season.

It’s funny, Kyle Dubas always gets a lot of criticism, but hardly anyone ever gives the Toronto Maple Leafs GM any credit.

The first trade Dubas made as an NHL GM was acquiring Hyman from the Florida Panthers for nothing.  Considering the cost and eventual outcome, this has to be one of the better trades in Leafs history.

The team then followed that up by giving Hyman one of the best contracts in the NHL – four years at $2.25 million.  At those number, Hyman was a monster.

Toronto Maple Leafs Will Obviously Miss Zach Hyman

But the #1 rule the Leafs follow is to never pay your auxiliary players too much money, for too long.  This means that unless he was willing to leave a ton of money on the table, they were never going to bring back Hyman.

When the Leafs lost Hyman to the Oilers this year, it was a blessing in disguise.  Because Hyman is a fan favorite who is not only a great player, but beloved by his teammates as well, they were willing to break their own rules to sign him, and it would have been a disaster.

That money is much better spent on Morgan Rielly and Jack Campbell.

Paying a grinding forward who’s offensive success is directly related to playing with star players, as he enters his 30s is a bad idea.  Giving him a contract until he is 36 is just straight up insanity.

So it doesn’t matter how good Hyman plays, he can’t live up to that contract.  The fact is, the Leafs were able to bring in Michael Bunting for the price of nearly six Hyman’s, and there is at least a 1 in 6 chance he’s better than Hyman this year, and if he isn’t, there is absolutely no downside.

The fact that Bunting could actually improve the Leafs for half of last year’s Hyman salary is a pretty solid silver lining to losing such a player.  Consider also that at least some – maybe a lot – of Hyman’s value comes from playing with Matthews, Marner and Tavares.  Sure, it would have been nice to retain Hyman, but in a cap league, tough decisions are par for the course.

Hyman has four points, including three goals, in the last four games.  This has started a whole new conversation about keeping him, but let’s not forget that Connor McDavid is flirting with three points per game for the last quarter-season, meaning anyone who plays with him is going to rack up the points.

Next. The Leafs Top 10 Prospects. dark

It doesn’t matter if Hyman scores 40 goals – and I hope he does – the Leafs were never in a position to re-sign him, and unless he was willing to sign for three years or less, he did them a favor.  I am going to cheer for Hyman to have an awesome season, but no matter how great he performs, it’s not going to change the fact that signing him was always going to be a mistake for the Leafs.