One of the former cornerstones of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ offense has found a new home. Zach Hyman has signed with Edmonton Oilers for seven years at a $5.5 million annual average value (AAV). There were a lot of rumors and hopes as to where Hyman might end up, but a deal was finally struck on Wednesday.
Hyman has spent the entirety of his six-year NHL career in Toronto, climbing the ranks to become a top-tier winger for the organization. Throughout the 2020-21 season, he spent the bulk of his time on a line with Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews—two of the biggest talents in the league.
Drafted 123rd (fifth round) by the Florida Panthers in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Hyman has turned into a stunning talent, averaging over 35 points per season since the 2016-17 season. The 29-year-old has more than proven that he’s capable of eating up first-line minutes while meaningfully contributing on the offensive side of the puck.
But that’s not the only area where he is skilled. He’s a physical player who’s not afraid to get aggressive should a situation permit. During the 2020-21 season, he laid 69 hits and chalked up 21 blocked shots. Between 2016 and 2019 (three seasons), Hyman registered 300 hits, averaging well over 100 hits in each of those seasons.
His Fit with Oilers
Despite the talent already available to the Oilers in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, Hyman only bolsters this already-strong offensive force. There’s no doubt that he’s going to be expected to play a lot of minutes and generate a lot of offense, and the Oilers are lucky to have such a talent. This takes the Oilers’ offensive roster to a whole other level, and it’s going to be exciting to see what kind of impact he has on the club moving into the 2021-22 season.
The Oilers are not only fortunate to be welcoming a top talent to their club, but Hyman is also going to have a chance with his new team to make a solid run in the playoffs, something he was not able to do with the Maple Leafs.
Though the offensive thrust of the McDavid-Draisaitl duo was able to push the Oilers into the postseason this past year, they were promptly swept by the Winnipeg Jets. It was not something many thought was likely to happen, but if Hyman is able to contribute at the same level he has in the past, the Oilers have a substantial chance to make it far in the postseason.
Something Had to Give
As mentioned, the Maple Leafs have had trouble getting beyond the first round of the postseason, despite being a predicted contender the last few years. It’s not a surprise that Toronto made such a big move. Though the club let Hyman slip away from the organization through free agency, it lightens the club’s cap, and there’s no doubt they intend to fill that space with more talent that can get them to the next level.
Hyman probably needed a change of scenery, too. He’s not as young as Marner and Matthews, and the prospect of getting to the Stanley Cup Final is slowly starting to close. He’s still a young player with a lot of hockey left in him, but it’s clear he felt it was time to move on to other opportunities.
He is surely going to be missed in Toronto, but he will undoubtedly be welcomed with open arms in Edmonton, giving their fanbase something to really look forward to as the 2021-22 season approaches. It’s going to be exciting to watch.
As with many youngsters who grow up in the Midwest, CG played a lot of hockey. His love and appreciation for the game is why he’s here, writing for The Hockey Writers, covering his two favorite teams: the San Jose Sharks and Montreal Canadiens. But he writes other things, too, including a novel entitled Project: Sleepless Dream. You can find him on Twitter @CGHockeyWriter.