Alright, hands up if you had Greg McKegg as the first trade domino to fall this off-season! No one?
No but seriously, the Leafs have made their first trade of the summer, and I can pretty much guarantee it won’t be their last. Today the team announced they have traded prospect Greg McKegg to the Florida Panthers in exchange for prospect Zach Hyman and a conditional 2017 7th-round pick.
Hyman is a 23-year-old center coming out of the University of Michigan and was drafted in the 5th round by the Florida Panthers in the 2010 draft. He had just 35 points through his first 114 games there, but exploded for 54 points in 37 games for the Wolverines as a senior this past season.
McKegg, also 23, was drafted in the 3rd round by Toronto in 2010 and has had a pretty successful OHL and AHL career but has struggled to cement himself as a legitimate NHL player (he’s played just 4 games for the Maple Leafs thus far).
We wrote about Hyman back at the end of May when rumors first started to swirl that the Leafs might be interested in Hyman, and talk has been rampant that he would look to become an unrestricted free agent in mid-August so that he could choose his team of preference. The conditional 7th-round pick is likely insurance for if Hyman walks, but as TSN’s Bob McKenzie notes, that’s unlikely to happen:
It’s not quite done deal as in a signed contract but Zach Hyman and TOR have framework in place. His 2-year entry level deal will get done.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 19, 2015
By the numbers, Hyman is given a 15.15% chance of reaching 200 NHL games played according to the PCS% tool and his historic comparables include the likes of Ryan Jones, Bobby Buttler, and Steve Pinizzotto. McKegg is given an 18.01% chance of reaching 200 NHL games played using the same tool and his historic comparables include the likes of Jarrett Stoll, Patrick Dwyer, and Derek MacKenzie. Hyman averaged 3.59 shots per game for Michigan this past season, while McKegg averaged 2.03 shots per game for the Marlies this past year.
I would suggest that while Hyman is a far, far bet from ever becoming an NHL regular, McKegg almost assuredly won’t ever become an NHL regular. In this sense, the Leafs seem happy to give up on a player that they know won’t make the NHL for a player that they think might have a chance to make the NHL, albeit a small one.
It’s not likely to be a move of any significance for the Leafs at any point in time, but it is a shift in a new direction for the team. Out with the old and in with the new, no matter how small the pieces.
It’s gonna be a fun off-season.