Zach Hyman Is Exactly Who the Leafs Needed

Zach Hyman is one of the many new faces to the post-trade deadline Toronto Maple Leafs. He didn’t get much attention when he was initially called up from the Toronto Marlies, which isn’t surprising considering William Nylander and Kasperi Kapanen were called up at the same time. Zach Hyman has played under-the-radar in his first year with the Leafs’ organization, but he is exactly the kind of player the Leafs need going forward.

 How the Leafs Got Zach Hyman

Toronto acquired Zach Hyman in the offseason from the Florida Panthers, which is now looking to be a steal of a trade for Toronto. The Leafs traded Greg McKegg to the Panthers for Hyman’s contract rights and a conditional 7th round 2017 draft pick. At the time of the trade it seemed like Toronto just exchanged players that would never amount anything in the NHL with the added bonus of a late draft pick. The trade was lopsided in value probably because Hyman had refused to sign a contract with the Panthers. The Leafs quickly signed Hyman to a two-year contract and he has already made an impact with the Marlies. In 54 games with the Marlies this season, Hyman has 13 goals and 33 points.

The Leafs must have scouted Hyman before acquiring him to take a chance on an unsigned player with no experience at the professional level. Although to be fair to Hyman he did impress in his last season with the University of Michigan with 54 points in 37 games. The Leafs hoped that his last year wasn’t just a fluke and that he could translate his game to the AHL and then possibly to the NHL.

What Hyman Brings to the Leafs

When the Leafs first called up Hyman to the team he just seemed like a player that was just there to fill a spot left empty by one of the Leafs’ many injured players. As he played more games it slowly became obvious that Hyman added much-needed energy to the team. This was quickly noticed by coach Mike Babcock who now wanted to keep Hyman, and some of the other call ups, with the Leafs for the rest of the season.

Hyman has played well beside line-mates William Nylander and P.A. Parenteau, which has been the Leafs’ best line in most games. While Nylander and Parenteau are players that rely on their pure skill; Hyman plays best in the corners and specifically around the net. In 12 games with the Leafs he has 4 goals and 5 points, which is pretty good for his first year of professional hockey. All of Hyman’s goals have been scored around the net; either in close with the goalie, in a scrum of players around the net or by tipping in a shot.

There are going to be a lot of skilled players coming up through the Marlies in the next few years with players like Nylander and Kapanen leading that group. But the Leafs need more than just skill to win games. They also need players like Hyman who work hard every game, getting to the corners, and making life difficult for the goalie in front of the net. He might not be the flashiest player on the Leafs, but he is exactly who they need to compliment the skilled game of players like Nylander.