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The market for Zach Hyman is exploding

July 16, 2021, 2:30 PM ET [21 Comments]
Jeremy Laura
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This is an exciting summer for contending teams. unfortunately, that’s not where Detroit is at in the rebuild. There seems to be some sort of consensus amongst readers to stay away from spending a lot of money to “speed up” the rebuild. Other teams have pushed the envelope only to watch the team end up right back at the starting line. (Unrelated, Skinner waived his trade protection for the expansion draft).

A topic where there is a split in readership is Zach Hyman. Here’s the breakdown of what I hear from you. Toronto fans tend to insist that his production has more to do with his linemates than Zach himself. Last summer I was met with an insistence that Hyman would never leave Toronto, and would take whatever deal they gave him. Dubas had a bargain in a player whose prime 20s were spent collecting 2.25M.

Detroit based detractors make similar arguments regarding production, but also point to age. Newly 29, the term that Hyman’s camp is looking for will take him into his mid 30s. A lot of the stats guys look at that as a death blow. There’s an insistence in this camp that the gritty winger will decline, possibly steeply, each year of the deal.

And then, there are the fans. I certainly fall in line with a pro-Zach camp. His style of play will work on pretty much any team in the league. I see him, a little bit, as a newer incarnation of Martin LaPointe. Hard nosed, can score, and undervalued. Lapointe’s last year in Detroit saw him pull 1.25 million. He had to leave town (and it cost him a championship) to get a 4 million dollar raise. 5.25 million to go to Boston. That was before the 01/02 season. 20 years later, Hyman is looking for the same dollars.

When LaPointe left, it was a gut punch for fans like me. It was also reality. He was coming off of a career 27 goal season (11 more than any past season) and wanted to cash in. Detroit wouldn’t give him those dollars. To Holland’s credit, LaPointe never broke 20 again. In fact, he never broke 17 (that was his first year) which was right around what he was scoring in the years before that breakout campaign. His first year of the payday same him very near that same age as Zach at 28.

It was heartbreaking to do this breakdown. I would love to see a winged wheel on Hyman. If the terms were still around 5 million x 5 years, even knowing there would be some falloff, I’d still love to get him in. The problem is that the market has gone a bit crazy. At least 3 teams are looking to trade for the player’s rights in order to be able to give an 8 year term at 5million+. That would see the player until 37, and one that has some really hard miles on him. If there are GMs right in the thick of battle, someone is going to have the best offer. Could he eclipse 6? At max term? I’d celebrate the deal for the player, but for the team it will probably not see full value on the final 2 or 3 years.

In professional sports, loyalty can be punished in disturbing ways. Players who believe the vision, and give up dollars so a GM can pay their stars. Phil Esposito often remarked that he turned down $1 million dollars to leave the NHL for a new, upstart league (and join Bobby Hull in cashing in) to stay loyal to the Boston Bruins. And then he was traded. To New York. A team that had been a bitter rival. When Don Cherry and Bobby Orr went to his room to tell him he was traded, Esposito said, “if you say to the Rangers I’m going to jump out that window”. One which Bobby Orr was staring out with bloodshot eyes. Not missing a beat, Cherry responded, “Bobby, move out of the way”.

Esposito, every time I’ve heard him speak of it, says he should have taken the money. That was back in 1975. In today’s terms, that is the equivalent of 4.8 million dollars. Very near the 5 million Hyman is looking for. At this point in his career, Esposito may well tell the young man to cash in. The security for yourself and your family is presenting itself. Don’t count on a GM (or anyone else) to have your best interest’s in mind.

As painful as it is, if 8 x 5 (or more) is in Zach’s future, Detroit doesn’t seem like the best fit. Coming from a team much more loaded for scoring and at least making the post season to one destined to miss for another 2 or 3 years is going to rob him of that opportunity. Detroit has cap space, to be sure. The terms just seem to be past what would be in the player’s (and the team’s) best interests.

Toronto is losing an important player. In the playoffs, when your top line is cancelled out, those second, third line (and sometimes 4th line) players make a huge difference. I think that’s why there is so much focus on Bertuzzi. A similar player who would be a second line (eventually 3rd line) player for the Leafs. One who can grab an opportunity when the defense is wearing themselves out on the top line. (Los Angelos is rumored to be interested in Bertuzzi. Again, nothing coming out of Detroit about any dealings. Still feels like pure speculation).

When I saw the numbers last night that are coming Hyman’s way, it felt like that moment on EBay when you walk away from the keyboard. Let someone else go premium price or higher at this point. It’s a shame to lose out, but it feels like the right move. I could be wrong. Maybe Yzerman is in it all the way (I doubt it, but I’ve been wrong on so many other things). I’ll trust the captain to, well, captain. This is my own reflection.

Where are you at? Are you out of the Zach sweepstakes at term over 5 years? Were you out before that? A player that I’d love to have, but that I don’t think the team can afford. Let me know in the comments.

Check out some of my previous posts
This is an exciting summer for contending teams.

Yzerman has kept contracts short and sweet.

In my previous post we looked at the core vs the core values

My fourth “gear corner” focused on equipment for special events.

The Canadiens have to get down to business after the post season ended.

my previous article covered some of the top UFA right shooting forwards available.

The expansion draft is swiftly approaching.

In my third installment of Summer Reading, Chelios found out exactly what Yzerman was like as a leader..

My third “Gear Corner” focused on helmets.

Alex Tanguay is a new assistant coach in Detroit.

I posted about the state of the Wings being at about half of the team it needs to be..

Frank Seravalli’s top 20 list has some options for Detroit.

My second summer reading post took a look at the world’s funniest bar fight.

My second “Gear Corner” talked a bit about gloves.

The Golden Knights are out of the playoffs.

Updated mock drafts have Detroit looking at Wallstedt, Eklund and Edvinsson.

Helm and Filppula could be moving on.

Jared McIsaac may finally be healthy enough to have a solid pro year.

My first “summer reading post” covered Chelios’s career defining fib.

Friday was my first gear corner with Doug Todd from Warrior Hockey.

Albert Johansson won’t be competing for a spot in North America this season

I will be featuring the writings of Kevin Allen for a summer reading program this year. It’s tough to break up the summer months, and the one on one formats that Kevin has perfected is not only a pleasure to read but gives insight that isn’t easy to come by. I’ll be starting with Chris Chelios “Made in America”.
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