There will be a lot of things the Toronto Maple Leafs will want to accomplish in the off-season and one priority should be to get a contract extension with Zach Hyman.
Kyle Dubas has had to navigate through a lot of tough contract situations since taking over as the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs and his job won’t get any easier over the next calendar year.
More specifically, he will have some tough decisions to make after the 2020-21 season with Morgan Rielly, Frederik Andersen and Zach Hyman set to become unrestricted free agents. Whenever free agency is set to begin, the Leafs would be able to start working on extensions for their pending UFAs.
On a conference call with reporters, Hyman told reporters that he has thought about his future status.
"“First and foremost, I would love to stay in Toronto,” Hyman told the media via TSN’s Kristen Shilton. “It’s where I grew up. I want to be a Leaf for a long time. In a way, with everything that’s happening now, I’m lucky that I have another year on my contract because everything will probably be sorted out by then with regards to the cap and whatnot and all those questions that nobody really has answers for right now. I would love to be a long-term Leaf and re-sign here. I want to be here and ultimately win a Stanley Cup.”"
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It’s not hard to see why Hyman wouldn want to return with the Leafs, considering he has seen great success since being acquired from the Florida Panthers in 2015 for Greg McKegg. For some, it took time for Hyman’s value to be appreciated and he’s also added to that this season.
After returning from surgery for a torn ACL, Hyman turned another gear scoring 21 goals in 51 games and that is without a lot of power-play usage. Instead, he is letting his hard work doing the talking for him and it’s easy to say he is the most consistent player on the team.
Sometimes you see players who struggle to find their game after a tough injury like Hyman had, even some hesitancy. That doesn’t appear to be the case with the 27-year-old, but even he admits there are limitations he works with.
"“I wore a knee brace for the whole year, so I was pretty cognizant of the fact I was still rehabbing it. I came back pretty early. This off time is actually beneficial for my overall body just to heal up and try to get the knee feeling back to normal,” Hyman told Sportsnet’s Luke Fox. “When I was in the season, I called it the ‘new normal,’ just trying to manage the day to day soreness. It got better as the season went on, but definitely I have work to do with it.”"
At $2.5 million, the Leafs’ investment into Hyman has certainly paid off and you can bet there will be many teams interested in signing him if he were to reach the UFA market. This is why the Leafs cannot let this happen; instead, they should be finding a way to ensure he stays with his hometown team.
This likely means giving him a pay raise, although to what extent remains to be seen considering that impact the COVID-19 pandemic will have on revenues. Since he has deep roots in Toronto, it only makes sense that the Leafs and Hyman try to find a compromise.
An ideal number for Toronto given the goal-scoring production Hyman has offered, his role in the top six and the penalty kill; would probably be in the $4-to 5-million range. It might be tough to see that being enough for Hyman, but the Leafs aren’t in a position to invest much more than this.
What do you think the Leafs should be looking to pay Hyman in his next deal? How much term would you give him? Let us know in the comments below.