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Zach Hyman should still be a Toronto Maple Leaf

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Photo credit:© Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
16 days ago
Ex-Toronto Maple Leaf Zach Hyman became the seventh Edmonton Oiler ever to score 50 goals with this glorious tap in against his old rivals, the Ottawa Senators.
This one stings, there’s no doubt about it. As a Maple Leaf, Hyman went from the College kid the team acquired for Greg McKegg, to a first-line winger in essentially a blink of an eye. So what was then-Leafs GM Kyle Dubas thinking when he let Hyman walk, to eventually sign a seven-year $38.5 million deal with the Oilers?

Dubas Had His Priorities Mixed Up

Looking back at the 2021 offseason, the contract negotiations between the two sides didn’t lead to a sense of common ground and there’s a ton of speculation it was because of Hyman’s no-trade protection request. He landed a full no-movement clause for his first five season in Edmonton and holds a modified clause for the final two seasons, a contract that takes him through the 2027-28 season, when he’ll be 35 years old.
Hyman was a beast as a Maple Leaf. He was a great complement to Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews on the Leafs top line as he’s a puck hound, ferocious on the forecheck and the fact he’s capable of playing both wings was something Dubas didn’t put enough stock in. Since joining the Oilers, he’s recorded back-to-back career seasons when it comes to point totals, and now has scored a career high 50 goals…and counting.
Dubas decided to not give in to Hyman’s contract requests, and instead tried to go with the low-risk, high-reward potential. Now, with Hyman in the middle of his third season with the Oilers, it’s safe to say it didn’t work out. This is going to be hard to wrap your head around, so bear with me, but instead of giving Hyman an extension, Dubas decided he’d give goaltender Petr Mrazek a three-year deal at $3.8 million AAV, even though Mrazek had a long history of injury troubles and had to since be traded to Chicago along with a first-round pick just to get off the Leafs books.
This was the same offseason when Dubas signed Nick Ritchie to a two-year, $5 million deal – the same Ritchie who had to be traded along with a second-round pick to the Arizona Coyotes just to free up cap space after scoring just two goals as a Leaf. The 28-year-old is no longer in the NHL.
Dubas wasn’t done there. Since Hyman departed he needed more depth on the wing and signed Ondrej Kase to a one-year $1.25 million deal. Injury troubles hindered Kase as a Leaf, but when he did play, he was productive, with 27 points in 50 games. Still, he’s no longer in the NHL and again, Hyman is in Edmonton lighting it up.
While David Kampf and Michael Bunting were also brought in during the 2021 offseason, these were great deals and Dubas looked smart on both accounts, however letting Hyman walk to sign Ritchie, Mrazek and Kase was a horrible mistake.

Bertuzzi & Domi Helping Ease the Pain

Thanks to some handy work from Brad Treliving in his first offseason as Leafs GM, Tyler Bertuzzi and Max Domi are starting to take off. Bertuzzi specifically is playing the role in which Hyman left vacant a few seasons ago. Still, it’s hard to see all the highlights in Edmonton of how effective Hyman can be in and around the net, and not think, what could have been?
Dubas made a lot of mistakes as Leafs GM, but letting Hyman walk into a $5.5 million AAV contract with the Oilers was his biggest gaffe. The Toronto native is an absolute workhorse, he’s a professional on and off the ice, he’s a wonderful influence in the community, he’s writes children’s books in his spare time and now he’s scoring 50 goals with ease. It just so happens to be for the wrong team.

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