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The Maple Leafs ‘fighting to get the nickels down,’ better offer from Edmonton Oilers, pushed Zach Hyman to leave hometown team

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Photo credit:© Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Mazzei
17 days ago
While it has been just under three years since Zach Hyman joined the Oilers, it has been a match made in heaven for both parties.
He hit the 50-goal mark for the first time in his career over the weekend, is on track for another 80+ point campaign, and has cemented himself as the best forward on the team not named Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl. All of this while being on the books for the next four seasons at $5.5 million per.
But none of this would have occurred in Edmonton had the Leafs been able to secure an extension with Hyman back in 2021. We now know that talks fell through during that fateful summer, but how exactly has remained a mystery until today as James Mirtle of The Atheltic made an appearance on Sportsnet 590 The Fan on Monday to discuss how exactly the negotiations failed.
He should have been a guy that played his whole career in Toronto. He really should have been and I think that’s what he wanted to do. I think he probably looked at it and he saw the core four guys getting this huge money and they’re fighting over hundreds of thousands of dollars and no-movement clauses. Edmonton, even without the eighth year, put more money on the table.
It did come right down to the end. I remember I was talking to the camp “Is this getting done and how far apart is it?” And then all of a sudden, I got the message that said “Yeah, he is going to Edmonton.” Then I was like “Wow, how did that happen?” I think that the Leafs’ brass was so worried about the cap and so worried about having another ‘overpay’ that they were really fighting to get the nickels down. I don’t know what the cap hit was but it would have been under five (million) for eight years, at most five (million) but with that extra year. The rumours are that part of it was the no-trade, no movement langauge on it which I can’t imagine (the Leafs) not getting it done over that. It is a big time miss for sure.
This is quite a lot to unpack, but the gist of it is that Hyman wanted to stay with the Leafs, but talks collapsed because they tried to keep the costs down, which upset his camp enough to look elsewhere. The Oilers were able to get him signed because they were able to go to a higher cap hit despite lacking the extra year of control and showed a high interest in the forward.
Toronto attempted to salvage things through a sign-and-trade, but it never materialized. Thus the Oilers were able to get their man without surrendering an asset.
The Leafs’ shortcomings in the negotiations with Hyman were the Oilers’ gain as it is clear that the deal has worked wonders for both sides barely three years in. No one could have envisioned that Edmonton was able to get this type of production out of the 31-year-old forward, but the team is not complaining, given the offensive output relative to the value of the cap hit.
It is fair to wonder just how differently things would have played out over the last three seasons had Toronto been able to get a deal done with Hyman. Would the Oilers be able to find another player that can have anywhere close to his impact alongside McDavid? What else would both teams add to their rosters afterward? How much does it alter the outcome of the Leafs and Oilers playoff runs in 2022 and 2023? Does Hyman still become a 50-goal scorer as a Leaf?
We will never know the answers to all of them, but it is something that will remain one of the biggest what-ifs of recent NHL history because of the impact the botched negotiations have had on both teams.
Suffice it to say, Oilers fans are thanking Kyle Dubas for allowing the Leafs to lose out on a future 50-goal scorer.

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