When the Toronto Maple Leafs signed veteran winger Patrick Marleau to a hefty three-year, $18.75-million deal in July, many pundits - and media members - around the league expected him to be a natural fit on the top line, replacing Zach Hyman on Auston Matthews' wing.
While the calls for Marleau to join Matthews and replace Hyman continue to gain volume and media attention, head coach Mike Babcock isn't prepared to make any hasty moves just yet.
"I'm not dumb," Babcock told reporters Thursday, according to The Athletic's Jonas Siegel. "That's what I read - that you guys want. But here's what I'm going to do, I'm going to coach the team and you guys are going to write the articles."
Despite previously being a vocal supporter of Hyman and what he brings to the table, Babcock was prompted to once again voice his fondness over the 25-year-old Toronto native and his style of play.
"Hyman's a guy who gets the puck back all the time," said Babcock. "When you're a good player, I've learned from good players, they like to have the puck. When you have three guys who want the puck - like Datsyuk used to tell me all the time, 'No, put him on someone else's line. I want a guy to get me the puck.' He (Hyman) gets the puck back better than anyone."
Hyman might not light the lamp on the regular, registering only 14 goals across 98 career regular-season games, but it's clear that his work ethic and sound two-way game have left a positive impression on his head coach.
So much so, that Babcock has already seemingly decided that Hyman will be on the top line with Matthews when the puck drops on the 2017-18 season in just under two weeks' time.