The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed forward Zach Hyman to a four-year contract extension, thereby avoiding arbitration. The cap value is $2.25 AAV, but breaks down in real dollars as $2 MM annually for the next two seasons, and $2.5 MM annually for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons. Hyman applied for arbitration today, but the parties were able to come to a deal without needed to fully exercise that option.
Hyman is an intriguing piece of Toronto’s impressive young roster. This deal could be a real bargain for Toronto as they try to squeeze other youngsters’ new contracts under the cap in coming off-seasons. Hyman looks to be a consistent 40 point player and for the other assets he brings, this is more than fair value. The 25-year-old is a bit of a late bloomer, just playing his first full NHL season this year, racking up 10 goals and 18 assists through 82 games. Under Mike Babcock, the nuts-and-bolts forward has really developed his overall game. He’s a sparkplug on the ice and is agile on his feet. He also plays bigger than his 6’0 frame, getting in on the forecheck and generally being an annoyance to opposing defensemen.
Hyman has also showed chemistry with standout rookie and probable franchise player Auston Matthews, playing a good portion of the season on his left wing. Hyman tends to do the dirty work in front of the net and in the corners while Matthews finds soft spots in coverage. He is versatile, however, and can slot up and down the lineup as needed. He can play both wings with relative proficiency, as well as center in a pinch. As a third wheel for any of the high-flying offensive threats the team has, he’s a wonderfully useful player. Toronto is likely most happy about the ability to buy out some of his unrestricted years while Hyman is likely grateful for the security. There’s not much to complain about for fans of the team, as Toronto was able to avoid the single or two year deal that would have resulted from the arbitration process.
Of note, this deal currently puts the Toronto Maple Leafs at $3.93 MM over the cap ceiling. Teams are allowed to exceed the cap ceiling in the off-season by 10 percent in the off-season, but must be compliant by the start of the year. The team still also is expected to re-sign RFA Connor Brown, but they will have both Joffrey Lupul and Nathan Horton headed to LTIR once the season begins.