When both Sportsnet insider Chris Johnston and The Athletic’s James Mirtle said this week that it’s not likely forward Zach Hyman would return to the Toronto Maple Leafs, speculation started to swirl as to what might come next. Was it about money? Was it about term? Had he changed his mind on taking a hometown discount?
Logic would suggest that Hyman being more likely to move on than stay means he’ll be testing the open market and potentially going to the highest bidder. So, by no means is it a given that he would join the Edmonton Oilers since multiple teams will make a pitch. At the same time, there is a growing sentiment among media and hockey insiders that the Oilers will be bidders on Hyman’s services and this is a team that has money to spend. They have the wherewithal to make him one of the better offers.
What Happened With the Maple Leafs?
The latest word about Hyman and the Leafs was that he would take a discount to stay put. That no longer seems to be the case. Johnston noted that Hyman is at a spot where the market will pay too much for him to pass up. In other words, it would have been one thing if he was asked to take a $500K haircut per season over three or four years. But, he’s looking at having to leave $2 – $2.5 million on the table for five, six or seven seasons. Understandably, that’s not something he’s keen to do.
Mirtle seems to hint that both the team and the player know the chances to get a deal done are slim. He notes the two sides haven’t had any meaningful contract talks at all and says things have gone the wrong direction. While there is time to work something out:
I’ve talked to people around the team in the weeks since the Leafs’ season ended in ugly fashion, the less that feels like where we’re headed… In fact, it feels downright unlikely anything is going to get done.source – ‘Mirtle: This appears to be the end for Zach Hyman as a Maple Leaf’- James Mirtle – The Athletic – 06/16/2021
Where Do the Oilers Fit In Here?
First, GM Ken Holland has the money to spend that Leafs’ GM Kyle Dubas does not. With $23 million (maybe more) in cap space, the Oilers top priority is at least one top-six left-winger. Hyman checks off a ton of boxes and if Holland is going to spend big money on a player, there’s a strong argument Hyman is the guy.
If Hyman is looking to maximize his potential for earnings, the Oilers could be high on his list. While other teams have money to spend, not many have the combination of money and an elite playing partner. The Oilers can offer $5.75 – $6 million per season for five or six years and most, if not all of those years will be spent playing beside Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl. That’s a pretty attractive deal for a player looking to get big money and produce big numbers.
The Concerns on Hyman If You’re Edmonton
Hyman is a great player. John Shannon said on Oilers Now this week that if he had the choice between Hyman, Ryan-Nugent Hopkins and Taylor Hall, he’s picking Hyman. But, there is a slight case of buyer beware Edmonton should consider if they’re really lining up to give Hyman $6 million by six years, or more.
First, Hyman is 29 years old. By the time a six-year contract ends, he’ll be 35. He’ll spend half his contract playing for the Oilers in his prime. The other half should see considerable regression, especially considering the type of game he plays. Second, he was a later bloomer who has never posted more than 41 points. He offers a ton of intangibles, but if he’s being paid top-line money, the Oilers need him to put up top-line numbers. Can he do that for six seasons?
Should Oilers Spend Whatever It Takes?
Hyman is absolutely a player you’d love to have, but at what cost? Is he that valued that the Oilers should get into a bidding war with other teams salivating over the fact it looks like the player will hit free agency? Or, is this a situation that, regardless of the player in question, Holland needs to be smart about his money situation?
Where do you fall here? If Hyman goes to market and is looking for $6 million times six years, do you give it to him if you’re Holland?
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”