The more I watch the Toronto Maple Leafs play this season, the more I appreciate what Zach Hyman does for them. I feel like Hyman is one of the most underrated players in the National Hockey League (NHL).
For one thing, he can play on any line and find success there. In the last couple seasons, Hyman has been on lines centred by Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Pierre Engvall and Alex Kerfoot. In fact, coach Sheldon Keefe seems to use him to help spark lines offensively when they are struggling to produce, such as when he was put on Tavares’ line this season.
His tenacious play is something this roster also doesn’t have in abundance. He’s one of those players who’s willing to lay a hit, or take a hit when necessary. On the ice, Hyman seems fearless, going to the difficult areas of the ice, and constantly battling for position in front of the opposition’s net. Beyond Hyman, the Leafs only other grinder forward is Wayne Simmonds.
But the physical side of his game is only part of what makes this player truly special for this franchise. He also has a growing offensive capability. Hyman is currently sixth on the Leafs in points produced, with 20. The only players ahead of him on that chart are the team’s stars: Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, William Nylander and Morgan Rielly.
To put this further in perspective, if he played on the division’s last place team, the Ottawa Senators, he would be tied with two other players for most goals on the team, and would be third on the team in points. In back to back seasons, the last couple of years, Hyman has scored 21 goals. He currently has 11 goals, and with 24 games left in this season, I could see him potentially setting a career best, in scoring this year.
With Hyman’s contract set to expire at the end of this season, he could possibly get a well-deserved salary raise in the off-season.