The Toronto Maple Leafs announced a four-year contract extension for winger Zach Hyman worth $2.25 million AAV on Wednesday.
Hyman will become a UFA at age 29 in 2021, meaning the contract buys two years of unrestricted free agency.
Despite his no-frills, lunch-bucket style of play, Hyman was something of a lightning rod in Leafs Nation on account of his fixed role on the left side (his off wing) next to Auston Matthews, with whom he spent 975 of his 5v5 minutes, accounting for 90% of his 5v5 ice time.
In those 975 minutes, the 25-year-old winger chipped in six goals and 23 points (he produced 10 goals and 28 points in 82 games overall). It was an up-and-down season for Hyman offensively: After opening the season with just one assist in 13 games while playing 16:41 per night, the Toronto native heated up in his next 25 games with five goals and 17 points. In the final 44 games of the regular season, he scored just five goals and 10 points, including a seven-game pointless streak to end the year. Hyman then broke out of the slump in the postseason with a goal and three assists in six playoff games against Washington.
While Hyman may be bumped out of his top-nine spot next to Matthews depending on how Mike Babcock arranges his lines with the recent addition of Patrick Marleau, his contributions on the penalty kill were notable and no doubt contributed significantly to the Leafs‘ willingness to hand out four years of term on his second contract. He was tied for second in the NHL with four shorthanded goals while leading the entire league in shorthanded time-on-ice among forwards (2:47/game) on a top-ten penalty kill. It’s certainly rare for a rookie to be handed that amount of responsibility, and he was more than capable in the role.
Hyman is well-regarded by Babcock and it may be premature to assume he will be out of a top-nine job next season knowing the Leafs head coach’s preference for one “digger” per line as well as his constant reminders in the media throughout the year about Hyman’s contributions to the successes of Auston Matthews and William Nylander (“he gets them the puck” was a frequent refrain). It also remains to be seen if the Leafs are going to move out any bodies up front before the start of the season in October.
Hyman becomes one of only five Leaf players signed past 2020, alongside Nazem Kadri, Morgan Rielly, Nikita Zaitsev, and Frederik Andersen. The $2.25 million cap hit puts the Leafs nearly $4 million over the cap, but they have over $10.5 million in Long Term Injury Reserve relief available on the Joffrey Lupul and Nathan Horton contracts.
Zach Hyman RFA Contract Comparables (Source: Cap Friendly)
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