Writers in the Toronto Maple Leafs Lounge haven’t had any on-ice action to talk about. But, while the team hasn’t played since the end of May, the news swirling around it continues to ramp up. I was joined by my colleagues Peter Baracchini and Alex Hobson to discuss some of the latest gossip.
Farewell Zach Hyman
It’s been widely reported that Zach Hyman will not be returning to the Maple Leafs. Although this news stings as we liked watching and writing about the gritty, passionate forward, it is the right move for the team.
“It’s tough. It hurts knowing the impact and the type of player that Zach Hyman is,” explained Baracchini. “I’ve heard $30 million over six years. That’s pretty tough knowing how cash-strapped the Leafs are right now. It is just not going to work out.”
Hobson agreed, stating there is no possible way Toronto can pay that kind of money, even for Hyman. “I don’t feel comfortable dishing out five or six million long term to him, given his age and knee issues,” said Hobson. Hyman is 29-years-old and has suffered two significant knee injuries in the past two years.
Is Morgan Rielly Trade Bait?
When Morgan Rielly did his exit interviews with the media, he was the only guy who thanked and said goodbye to reporters. Read into that what you may, but the longest-serving Maple Leaf will be entering the last year of his contract next season. So for a team that desperately needs cap space and has a few young defensemen waiting in the wings, it would make sense to be shopping around Rielly.
Baracchini has been working on some possible trade scenarios. “I think you could get a first-round pick and a prospect,” explained Baracchini. “I think the Detroit Red Wings could be in that range where they have a late-round first, 23rd overall that they got from the Washington Capitals for Anthony Mantha. So maybe that and get a prospect like Joe Veleno in for centre depth.”
Baracchini listed a few other deals he thinks could come to fruition. I’m not going to let the cat out of the bag here, so keep an eye out for the story he continues to work on.
Dougie Hamilton to the Maple Leafs
In classic Toronto fashion, every player who wants to be traded or is a pending free agent draw speculation the Maple Leafs will get him. You may recall the last off-season, Alex Pietrangelo was coming to Toronto. It wasn’t long ago that Steven Stamkos was coming home as well. This time it’s Dougie Hamilton. He is coming off a contract that paid him $5.5 million. However, he is looking for more as the Carolina Hurricanes gave him the approval to start looking to other teams for a new contract.
Hobson said Toronto would have to get rid of Rielly to even attempt to sign Hamilton and remain cap compliant. “I do not see a fit for Dougie Hamilton in Toronto,” said Hobson. He explained Hamilton’s play would suit the Maple Leafs, but his personality may not. “He is known to be an introvert… it’s a sad truth; Leaf fans have shown in the past that they can be absolutely reckless and relentless toward their own players. I don’t know if that is something Dougie Hamilton would be comfortable with.”
Expansion Draft Decisions
The Seattle Kraken selects its players on July 21. The Maple Leafs have until July 17 to submit a protected player list and announce which players will be exposed. I wrote about Kyle Dubas’s dilemma and suggested Toronto will protect the core-four, the top four defensemen and Jack Campbell. This plan would also mean Alex Kerfoot, Pierre Engvall, Michael Hutchinson would be exposed. Toronto would also have to sign a defenseman to put on the list. That would be the logical solution for the current roster. However, all the writers agree that Dubas is crafty and will likely make some adjustments before the deadline.
Even without stepping on the ice, this team continues to be the talk of the town. We look forward to your ideas and comments as we continue to produce the Maple Leafs Lounge throughout the offseason.
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Kevin Armstrong is an award-winning journalist with more than two decades of experience. He’s been rink side for World Juniors, Memorial Cups, Calder Cups and Stanley Cups. Like many Canadian kids, his earliest memories include hockey. Kevin has spent countless hours in arenas throughout the country watching all levels of the game.