The future of Toronto Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman has been a huge topic of discussion since another disappointing first round exit in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Maple Leafs. Although there has been some very minor positive news on that front in recent days it now sounds as though those with their finger on the pulse of the Leafs believe Hyman has likely played his final game for the organization.
The talk of Hyman leaving the team ramped up considerably this week when Jason Gregor indicated that he had heard rumors that Hyman had turned down an offer that would have seen him earn an average annual value of $5 million per season on a new deal during the DFO podcast. National Hockey League insider Chris Johnston, who was a guest on that very same podcast, indicated that he believed Hyman could get upwards of that number on the open market as an unrestricted free agent.
Now to be clear that was merely a rumor and it is one that Hyman's own agent, Todd Reynolds, has since refuted as per Maple Leafs beat reporter Terry Koshan.
In spite of Koshan acknowledging that Hyman's agent had shutdown the rumors of a rejected contract offer, the Leafs beat reporter still believes that Hyman's future lies elsewhere and that his hard nosed playing style will belong to a rival team in the National Hockey League come next season. Koshan believes that Hyman will entertain offers in the range of $5 million to $6 million in free agency and does not believe that the cap-strapped Toronto Maple Leafs will have the cap space to match such offers.
"This is his big opportunity in his career (to get paid), and he knows that," a source said as per the Toronto Sun. "There’s going to be no shortage of interest in him."
Hyman, unlike teammates such as John Tavares, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, is not considered to be among Toronto's big offensive weapons but he is beloved by the fan base and reportedly by the organization as well. He is what you would consider a heart and soul type of player and exactly the kind of player that team president Brendan Shanahan hinted the Leafs need more of when he suggested their roster lacks "killer instinct" during an end of season press conference this week.
Hyman's loss would no doubt be a big blow to the Leafs lineup and it sounds like that is indeed the direction the team is headed in at this time.