When meeting with media members after the devastating first-round series playoff elimination at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman didn’t want to talk about his future : he was still digesting the loss. He did state that he would “of course” like to stay with the Leafs “if something made sense,” but reiterated he hasn’t thought about his contractual status much this season, especially in the playoffs.
Hyman has just ended the the final year of a four-year, $9 million contract and is set to become an unrestricted free agent July 28. Everyone expects him to get a salary raise but insider James Mirtle of The Athletic, who was once convinced that Hyman would be back in Toronto, is now stating that “this appears to be the end” of Hyman as a Maple Leaf.
In his latest article for The Athletic, Mirtle explains that he hears that “it feels downright unlikely anything is going to get done.”
“Multiple sources said they didn’t believe any talks of substance had happened, going back months. No progress was made on extension talk at any point, really, going back to when Hyman first became eligible for a new deal last year.
All that happened in that time frame was he put up his best season in the NHL, scoring at a prorated 29-goal, 63-point pace during the regular season. And his value on the open market continued to climb.
Other teams and agents around the league believe Hyman can now command close to $6 million a season on a long-term deal, an unthinkable sum only a year or two ago.”
We all saw how Hyman has been a key piece to Toronto’s top-six forward core in the past few seasons, able to keep up and get Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner going on the ice. The argument for keeping Hyman is considerable…BUT:
The main question in Toronto remains cap availability. As Mirtle states himself: “There’s no plausible way for the Leafs to make anything close to that number work. And while Hyman’s camp and the Leafs have both declined comment, I don’t believe a hometown discount here would be extreme.”
The Leafs could have dollars to play with later this summer, but that’s if they don’t re-sign Hyman and lose Alex Kerfoot to Seattle in the expansion draft…
GM Kyle Dubas might be weary on re-signing Hyman altogether… Mirtle argues that he has had multiple knee injuries, including one that clearly slowed him in the playoffs. To make numbers work, Dubas would be forced to sign Hyman to a six- or seven-year contract, at minimum and that just sounds like too much of a gamble.
The core four may be staying in Toronto, but it sure sounds like a big piece is leaving the Leafs…