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As Maple Leafs’ Zach Hyman weighs his contract options, Oilers remain the front-runner

As Maple Leafs’ Zach Hyman weighs his contract options, Oilers remain the front-runner
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It appears Zach Hyman could soon be an Edmonton Oiler. For now – and things can change quickly – he remained a Toronto Maple Leaf .

The tenacious forechecker who scores 20 goals a year while doing the so-called dirty work on the Leafs’ top line, seems ready to agree to terms with the Oilers, who are willing to pay him about a $1 million a year more than what the Maple Leafs can fit given their top-heavy salary structure.

But as Thursday’s 1 p.m. roster freeze passed, Hyman remained with the Leafs.

The ball was in the Leafs court. The Oilers are believed to have two offers on the table for Hyman, one an eight-year deal worth $5.125 million a year, the other a seven-year deal for $5.5 million a year.

The eight-year deal— which comes with a lower cap hit — only works if Leafs GM Kyle Dubas signs Hyman to the deal, then trades him to the Oilers for an asset.

“We’re open to anything that can that can help to make our team better,” said Dubas. “So if there’s fair value to be had there that we’ll certainly explore it.”

Dubas spoke before the roster freeze was lifted, adding he hadn’t heard anything from Hyman’s agent, Todd Reynolds. Oilers GM Ken Holland spoke right after the roster freeze passed, saying no trades were in the books.

“Zach Hyman has been given permission to talk to whoever he wants to talk to,” said Holland. “Only the agents can handicap. He’s a player we’re very interested in.”

If Hyman wants to move and Dubas can’t make a trade that seems reasonable, then Hyman and the Oilers only have to wait until July 28 at noon to make it official, when Hyman’s contract officially expires and he can walk away as an unrestricted free agent.

If that were the case, the deal would only be for seven years — only a re-signing team can offer eight years — and the cap hit for the Oilers would be higher at $5.5 million.

“Zack Hyman has to make a decision. He’s got by next Wednesday (for a sign-and-trade). If all of a sudden we get the information that he’d like to sign with us, then I talk to Toronto, to Kyle, (to ask) what’s the cost. I think we’re a long way away from that.”

Dubas said he had hoped to keep Hyman, but let his camp talk to other teams to determine what his value truly was.

“Our intention going in was to retain Zach’s services,” said Dubas. “He has been an excellent player for us for his entire career here and I think everyone loves him as a player and a person. We have certain limits that we can go to and we have tried to extend ourselves as best we can, knowing that there would be a strong market for him.

“So, about a week ago now, or, or seven or eight days ago now, we gave Todd Reynolds and Zach permission to begin speaking other teams try to move process along so that you get to have a better picture heading into free agency as to where we actually stood and how we go about to trying to replace Zach if that was going to be the conclusion.”

Hyman’s first choice was to remain a Maple Leaf, and the 29-year-old remained hopeful a deal could be done with the Leafs. But Toronto has only about $10 million available under the cap, needing to sign a goalie — who could command at least $2 million — and a few other players.

To accommodate Hyman, another roster player would need to be moved.

The Boston Bruins, New York Rangers and Florida Panthers — the team that initially drafted Hyman — all made credible offers for the forward in the prime of his career. Another team, in rebuild mode, offered more, close to $7 million a year for six years.
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