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Photo Credit: Geoff Burke / USA TODAY Sports

Zach Hyman avoids arbitration, new deal may be close

Just a few days after the Leafs acquired what’s likely to be their new first-line left winger, their old one made a choice of his own in relation to his contract. Coming up to today’s 5 p.m. deadline, it appears Zach Hyman let the window pass and is most likely actively in negotiation with the team on his second NHL contract.

You already know the Zach Hyman story, but here it is again in brief.

After bumping around a bit in the Florida Panthers organization, he was given a chance in Toronto after a 1-for-1 trade for Gregg McKegg: first with the Marlies in 2015-16, and then with the Leafs last year.

On a line with two other rookies (of which he was the oldest one by four and six draft classes respectively), Hyman’s value this season came to the tune of 10 goals and 18 assists while primarily playing with Auston Matthews and William Nylander. Some will tell you he allows the other two room to do their work, while others argue it’s best for a more skilled player to step into that role. While he does have just one year in the NHL under his belt, he’s already 25, and as such improvements are more likely to be marginal rather than big leaps forward.

He’s a funny case, as he also had a serious issue putting the puck in the net from in close, especially at even strength. He scored just 6 times in 1084 minutes of 5v5 ice time, including 975 with Auston Matthews as his centre. A shooting percentage of  4.48 will do that to you. Is that a lack of shooting skill or just bad luck?

We’ll hum right along until we find out what exactly his next contract looks like.