It’s a crazy time in the NHL right now for rumors. The Toronto Maple Leafs have a few untied shoelaces with Frederik Andersen (to a smaller extent) and Zach Hyman (to a bigger extent) potentially becoming unrestricted free agents. So many things seem to be leveraging on Hyman’s signing or leaving.
If Hyman Stays, Life Goes on: If Hyman Leaves, the Shuffle Begins
If Hyman re-signs, there’s a pretty good chance the team will remain more or less as it was last season. All in all, from my perspective that’s not a bad thing. The team had a great regular season and I believe came within a playoff whisker or a John Tavares concussion of being in the Stanley Cup final four. It wouldn’t be such a bad team to bet on, given its 2020-21 regular-season success and the maturing of the players, the coaching staff, and even the front office.
When logic prevails over emotion, and that’s a tough space to live in right now for many Maple Leafs’ fans, if you’re a betting person and not a complete pessimist, this team might be a good one to throw some money at. The odds might be good, and the team has as solid a chance as any to make a playoff run.
If Hyman leaves, the shuffle begins. That both frees up money and creates needs the team must fill. In this edition of Maple Leafs’ News & Rumors, I’ll look at some of the crazy rumors floating around.
Item One: How Important Is Playing at Home for Zach Hyman?
Since Zach Hyman’s been rumored to be testing the open market, I’ve come to theorize how much being “home” might matter to the players. I know that THW readers note that, when you become a professional athlete, you (and your family) accept the likelihood that you’ll make new homes in other cities. I suppose that’s logical; and, to a lesser extent, it happens in many other vocations as well.
However, in listening to a recent Wayne Simmonds’ interview after he re-signed and in reading Travis Dermott’s comments a day ago after he re-signed, both mentioned how important it was to them to live in Toronto, where they’re from. My point is that I think being home really matters; and, to Hyman, I think it might literally be worth $1 million per season. That said, that exact topic has probably been an important family conversation.
As I hint below, Friedman and I don’t agree on the likelihood that Hyman will leave. Friedman seems to think it’s a done deal; however, rumors aside, I think Hyman will stay in Toronto. Call me crazy, but some things are more important than money.
Item Two: Is Tyler Bertuzzi on the Maple Leafs’ Watch List?
On Friday morning, Elliotte Friedman was interviewed on Sportsnet 590 radio and spoke about some players the Maple Leafs might be interested pursuing in during the offseason – if Hyman leaves. Specifically, Friedman noted that he was “wondering if he’s (Bertuzzi) one of the guys they’re going to look at. He plays a way that I think Toronto would like to add to their roster.” Highly speculative, but interesting.
No argument from me that the 26-year-old Bertuzzi would be a nice pick up for the team. Friedeman noted that he’d heard the Maple Leafs were looking at the Detroit Red Wings’ left-winger at the NHL trade deadline last year; however, Bertuzzi was hurt and only played nine games the entire season (but he did score five goals).
Bertuzzi could become a restricted free agent this summer and would likely gain a salary increase over the $3.5 million he made on his last contract. If he were actually available, which seems unlikely, and the Red Wings wanted to move him, he might be a good replacement for Hyman. He’s potentially a better scorer and, with the Maple Leafs’ other high-end offensive talent, might hit some career highs. He’d be a great addition to the team’s top six.
However, Maple Leafs’ fans have to know that other teams would be interested in Bertuzzi as well. Still, if Alex Kerfoot leaves via the expansion draft, Andersen moves on, and Hyman leaves, Maple Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas might actually have the funds to outbid another team. It also might be that Red Wings’ general manager Steve Yzerman might be willing to trade Bertuzzi’s negotiation rights for a prospect or two. The Red Wings are in a different stage of rebuild than the Maple Leafs.
What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?
Here’s how crazy the rumors are these days. On Thursday, Darren Dreger reported on the TSN’s Insider Trading that, if the Boston Bruins and Taylor Hall can’t figure out the details on a contract extension before July 28th, the Maple Leafs might be interested.
Dreger noted about Hall that, “There’s outside interest as well (in Taylor Hall), including from the Toronto Maple Leafs, which may surprise some. Toronto has interest, I’m sure, if they can’t get Zach Hyman signed, or depending on what happens with Freddy Andersen.”
Seems crazy to me. If the Maple Leafs saw Hall as a viable option and were so interested, why not go after him at last season’s trade deadline? He could have been picked up quite cheaply from the Buffalo Sabres.
As I say, it’s a crazy time of the offseason and Maple Leafs’ fans are likely to hear all sorts of crazy rumors. During the post, I’ll continue with the wagering considerations. For my money, I’m betting the roster the Maple Leafs end up with for 2021-22 is closer to the roster the team ended last season with – probably much to the dismay of the Maple Leafs’ fans.
The Old Prof (Jim Parsons, Sr.) taught for more than 40 years in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. He’s a Canadian boy, who has two degrees from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate from the University of Texas. He is now retired on Vancouver Island, where he lives with his family. His hobbies include playing with his hockey cards and simply being a sports fan – hockey, the Toronto Raptors, and CFL football (thinks Ricky Ray personifies how a professional athlete should act).
If you wonder why he doesn’t use his real name, it’s because his son – who’s also Jim Parsons – wrote for The Hockey Writers first and asked Jim Sr. to use another name so readers wouldn’t confuse their work.
Because Jim Sr. had worked in China, he adopted the Mandarin word for teacher (老師). The first character lǎo (老) means “old,” and the second character shī (師) means “teacher.” The literal translation of lǎoshī is “old teacher.” That became his pen name. Today, other than writing for The Hockey Writers, he teaches graduate students research design at several Canadian universities.
He looks forward to sharing his insights about the Toronto Maple Leafs and about how sports engages life more fully. His Twitter address is https://twitter.com/TheOldProf