Thoughts on the Toronto Maple Leafs As Zach Hyman Hits 40 Goals Before March

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Wednesday night former Toronto Maple Leafs scrappy winger Zach Hyman scored two goals to reach the 40-goal mark for the first time in his career.

You would be hard pressed to find a Toronto Maple Leafs fan that would not take the former Hamilton Red Wings forward back on the team, but sometimes moving on is the right thing to do.

Heading into the summer of 2021 Hyman was a pending free agent coming off two major knee injuries, one resulting in surgery on his ACL in 2019 and the other an MCL injury knocking him out a month before the 2021 playoffs.

While it appeared both the team and the player wanted to reunite, due to consecutive seasons of a flat cap former general manager Kyle Dubas felt he could not fit Hyman's increasing salary on the books, especially since he was soon to be 30-years old and being the victim of the above mentioned injuries.

Hyman has proven to be resilient since joining the Edmonton Oilers through nearly three full seasons as he has missed just ten games and has been one of the best power forwards in hockey.

Thoughts on the Toronto Maple Leafs As Zach Hyman Hits 40 Goals Before March

During the Auston Matthews years when the "Core Four" received their pay raises, the team has had to let many of their own players walk in free agency, as well as see other rentals leave, however in most cases it has worked out for the team.

Like Hyman, Frederik Andersen was hitting free agency after the 2020-21 season, was also coming off multiple injuries and the Maple Leafs let him walk into free agency. The two-time William Jennings trophy winner would sign a multi-year contract with the Carolina Hurricanes to be their starting goalie.

Andersen's start in Raleigh, North Carolina looked spectacular posting a 35-14-3 record with a 2.17 GAA and .922 save percentage in his first season. However, what his hockey-reference page does not show is that he would go down with an injury in April and miss the remainder of the regular season and the entirety of the playoffs.

Last year things did not get much better as Andersen would go down with another injury in early November and miss over two months of hockey starting just 33 games over the whole season. He would find himself on the injured reserve near the end of the season missing multiple games in both the first and third rounds of the playoffs. Injuries continued into this season as the Denmark goalie has not played since November 2 and has started just six games for the year.

Another player the Maple Leafs let walk for nothing was Russian free agent Ilya Mikheyev. The massive winger signed a four-year deal worth $19 Million ($4.75 Million) with the Vancouver Canucks in the summer of 2022 after scoring 21 goals in 53 games with the Maple Leafs the season before.

Like both Andersen and Hyman, Mikheyev was an injury riddled player and that continued which continued into his first year with the Canucks missing 36 games. The Omsk, Russian native has been able to stay healthy this year, however, with age and injuries he has seen his production decline and has just ten goals in 57 games, while also having two more years left on that deal.

You can look further back at other players that the Maple Leafs let walk away to ensure they could keep cap compliant with the Core Four and you see players like Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson who would later be placed on waivers by their future teams while carrying significant cap hits.


For the one Zach Hyman, you have several other players that you did not allocate a substantial piece of your salary cap to. Hyman was a great Maple Leaf who gave productive seasons, it's good to see how well he was doing, but Dubas was right to not sign all those other players to those deals.