Zach Hyman's likely departure has Leafs fans in shambles
As NHL free agency draws near, It looks increasingly likely that Zach Hyman has played his last game in a Maple Leafs tarp, and the notion that Toronto might lose a 29-year-old, 40-point winger with injury issues has predictably swallowed up the NHL's news cycle over the past couple days.
TSN insider Darren Dreger dropped news on Thursday that Leafs fans were reluctantly waiting to hear, reporting the Maple Leafs "have granted Zach Hyman’s agent, Todd Reynolds, permission to speak with other NHL clubs to investigate trading his rights."
The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun set the tire fire ablaze on Wednesday morning after he tweeted an update on the wrecking-ball winger's contract status with the Leafs, causing fans to really face head-on the likely possibility of Hyman testing the open market and chasing his big payday with another organization.
Subject to change, of course, but all signs pointing to pending UFA Zach Hyman heading to market July 28. Sizeable gap in positions with Leafs at the moment. Which was the expectation given his market value and Leafs' cap situation.@TSNHockey @TheAthletic
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) July 14, 2021
Hyman rightfully wants to get paid after posting three fairly productive seasons while carving out a prominent top-six role with the Leafs since inking a somewhat team-friendly, four-year deal worth $2.25M per season in 2017, and Toronto simply can't afford to give him the bag he deserves without tearing down a significant chunk of its roster.
For as stellar a player as he is — one you absolutely hate to lose because of a somewhat unexpected cap crunch — there's legitimate arguments to be made against using $5 to 6-million of cap space over the next 6-7 years on a 29-year-old winger who plays a wreckless style, is already battling some chronic injury issues over the past few campaigns, and who has only put up 20 goals and 40 points twice over five-and-a-half NHL seasons while under-producing like the rest of the squad has in each the past few postseasons.
The intricacies and plethora of factors involved is making this a polarizing situation for fans of the Leafs and beyond, and you absolutely knew the prospect of losing the play-driving winger this summer would provide us with the predictably absurd takes we crave in times like these.
But even the (somewhat) more rational ends of Leafs Twitter lamented Hyman's likely departure in many different ways since the reports started to surface, with many grappling feelings of disappointment, sadness, relief and confusion over the whole thing.
This week's Zach Hyman Discourse has had it all.
i don’t know if it’s just because he was in toronto, but covering Zach Hyman like it’s The Decision 2 is hilarious
— thomas williams (@nosalaryretaind) July 15, 2021
the lowest-maintenance dude, who is only better every season, and whose presence is used to solve any issue in the lineup. Tough. https://t.co/nFjcS9C8fY
— Justin Cuthbert (@jccuthbert) July 15, 2021
someone is going to sign zach hyman to a bad contract and we should be happy that it wont be the Leafs
— rahef 🌷✨ (@rahef_issa) July 15, 2021
Looking at this current Leafs roster and processing the idea that Zach Hyman is probably leaving is a pretty dogshit feeling to me
— juno (@junotheleafs) July 9, 2021
The fact that this much conversation is happening regarding the Leafs potentially losing Zach Hyman tells you everything you need to know about the state of the franchise.
— Sid Seixeiro (@Sid_Seixeiro) July 15, 2021
If I was running an NHL team, I would be more than a little reluctant to give an 8-year contract to a physical winger who is 29 and has missed more than 30 games over the past two seasons.
— Scott Cullen (@ByScottCullen) July 15, 2021
Hyman's career-high is 21 goals. What am I missing here?
— Baggedmilk (@jsbmbaggedmilk) July 14, 2021
I was pretty confident the Leafs would do better in the playoffs this year and I was pretty sure he was gonna stay. If I seem particularly hung up on losing Hyman, I am. This sucks. https://t.co/hOphU7l6qR
— Steve “Dangle” Glynn (@Steve_Dangle) July 15, 2021
Zach Hyman is a useful player but the way he's being talked about by the insiders makes this sound like it's going to be a contract somebody winds up regretting.
— draglikepull (@draglikepull) July 15, 2021
I don’t know who needs to hear this but the leafs are not going to implode because Zach Hyman doesn’t return… Will I be sad? Yes. Does he leave a big space to be filled? Also yes. But some of you are acting like there aren’t any other players like him and that simply is not true
— amanda (@amanda_c_rae) July 15, 2021
Zach Hyman honestly shouldn't get more than a three-year deal at around $4.25m AAV. And even then, I could see a contract like that being bought out.
An eight-year deal for Hyman might have a decent chance of being the worst contract signed since the 2013 lockout.
— Mike Gould (@miketgould) July 15, 2021
Generic hockey take: Good luck to Zach Hyman. I wish him nothing but success (except for when he’s facing the Leafs)
Honest take: I didn’t think losing Hyman would sting this much…
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) July 15, 2021
The Leafs’ success doesn’t revolve on guys like Zach Hyman re-signing. The ones making 11 million simply need to play to their potential when it matters. The supporting cast can be replaced without much issue.
— Matt LaBelle (@mattlabelle) July 15, 2021
Sure, there's many a reason why the Leafs should be doing everything they can to keep Hyman and players of his ilk in Toronto, but we can't overlook the fact that this dude is absolutely a candidate for a big overpay.
It's a classic case of a guy you really, really want but don't necessarily need — especially at $5 or 5.5-million per season which he is reportedly seeking — but a valuable enough piece of your core that it will certainly warrant debates and discussions like these.
Unfortunately, we won't know for a couple of seasons whether or not the Hyman signing was great, or one of the worst contracts in NHL history. It can only be one of those two things.
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