Geek of the Week: Hy-Man on a Mission

Scott Royce

2021-04-04

When discussing the Toronto Maple Leafs forward core, the usual names like Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews and John Tavares often come to mind first and foremost. While it's true that all the aforementioned players are elite offensive talents, there's one man who often flies under the radar of hockey pundits and fantasy hockey fans alike. Zach Hyman is often overlooked and under-appreciated, but most nights he is the catalyst for the Leafs' offense. 

Hyman certainly didn't have a traditional origin story. He was drafted all the way back in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft 123rd overall by the Florida Panthers. Hyman opted to attend the University of Michigan, where he would end up playing four full years for the Wolverines. After finishing his degree, he and the Panthers could not come to terms on a contract. The Panthers opted to trade his rights to Toronto for Greg McKegg

The 2015-16 marked Hyman's first year of professional hockey. He started off playing 59 games with a very strong Toronto Marlies squad. He managed to put up 15 goals and 22 assists for 37 points in total, and an impressive plus-31. His strong play was enough to earn him a trial run for the Maple Leafs. He played 16 games for the Leafs and posted just six points. The points were merely an afterthought though, as his excellent forechecking and penalty-killing abilities were put on full display.

At the end of March 2016, Hyman was loaned back to the Marlies so he could be part of their Calder Cup playoff run. The Marlies were considered one of the favorites to win the Calder that year, but fell in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Hershey Bears. Hyman chipped in six points during the playoff run, and despite breaking his nose in the Conference Finals, played in all 15 postseason contests. 

In the 2016-17 season Hyman made the team out of training camp and played all 82 games with the Leafs. He found himself in the very envious position of riding shotgun on a line with rookie Auston Matthews for almost the entire season. His hard-nose, grindy brand of hockey quickly endeared him to then-coach Mike Babcock who would often gush about Hyman in his post-game press conferences. He only put up 28 points on the year, but his job wasn't to bury goals. His puck pursuit skills were starting to stand out. Without Hyman ba