Zach Hyman is underrated, underappreciated, and a genuinely all-around nice guy. But that is only true if you are off the ice, where Hyman is a renowned children’s book author and lovable teammate. This is never more apparent than in the case of last year’s post-season media sessions with Ben Stelter and raving reviews from coach Jay Woodcroft.
On the ice, Hyman is a ferociously driven, hardworking, and tenacious individual who is reaping the rewards of playing time alongside Connor McDavid. Although snubbed of a very deserved All-Star appearance, Hyman is showcasing the value the Edmonton Oilers saw when they signed him to the seven-year $35M contract.
Hyman’s stats with the Oilers versus his career numbers
Hyman is a hard-nosed winger who works the dirty areas battling for loose pucks. This is a skill Hyman takes to the front of the net, where he is a key cog on the vaunted Oilers powerplay, batting in tap-in goals and deftly deflecting pucks with superb hand-eye skills. Also, the edge Hyman plays with carries over to agitating goalies when net front, and opposing defenceman, such as fighting Sean Durzi of the Los Angeles Kings, reveling in the team-first mentality and momentum generation that has carried into the team’s recent winning way.
Hyman has excelled at the underlying metrics alongside the conventional categories. At 5v5 this season, Hyman has shown the ability to control and win the puck possession battle (CF%) and excel in various other categories at borderline elite levels including shot quality (XG%), total goals when on the ice (GF%), scoring chance control (SCF%), and winning the high-danger chance battles (HDCF%) implying Hyman has been very good at both ends of the ice. The HDCF battle is very prominent for Edmonton. The Oilers suffered from a very porous defense at the start of the season due to a deficient defensive structure, leading to many issues within the team’s end.
All of Hyman’s traits have resulted in him having a career year. Compared to last year, which had already been a personal best, he now is just one short of his career-high goals in two-thirds of the games played. He also has surpassed his previous year’s best in several statistical categories, including assists and points. Currently, Hyman is on pace to obliterate his career totals, almost doubling his best for points in a season.
How Hyman ranks compared to the rest of the NHL
- Goals: 18th
- Assists: 24th
- Points: 15th
- XG: 1st
- XG/60: 1st
Hyman’s remarkable season ranks highly compared to the rest of the NHL. Though not regarded as the most talented player, Hyman is generally considered the most motivated and driven. Fueled partly by the neglect and constant narrative that he is not worth his contract, Hyman has reveled in his second season with Edmonton, including where he currently stands next to the NHL’s best.
Hyman has excelled in the underlying metrics of expected goals (XG) and expected goals per 60 (XG/60), leading the NHL in both categories. The categories hypothesize the chance of an unblocked shot resulting in a goal, a value that accumulates into a total of 35.8 expected goals for the season so far, 6.4 expected goals ahead of second place, Matthew Tkachuk. This indicates that Hyman is underperforming relative to how he has performed to date, proving that his goal total is under by nine goals and should be tied for third in the NHL with Jack Hughes.
There are many factors leading to Hyman’s career year. Though many may argue that Hyman’s totals are inflated due to Edmonton’s powerplay, he currently sits eighth league-wide at 5v5 points. Ranking first within the Oilers and ahead of David Pastrnak, Matthew Tkachuk, and Auston Matthews.
Additional criticisms of Hymans play rely on an inflated shooting percentage, when in fact, Hyman is on par with his career average, only 0.02% above. A point Hyman can defend via his generated shot volume, ranking tenth in the league in shots on the net.
Hyman’s impact on different lines (minimum TOI of 50 minutes)
|Zach Hyman–Leon Draisaitl–Connor McDavid||222||55.2%||57.7%||68.8%||59.1%||63.6%|
|Zach Hyman–Connor McDavid–Ryan Nugent-Hopkins||82||58.2%||53.6%||60.0%||58.3%||61.2%|
|Zach Hyman–Connor McDavid–Jesse Puljujarvi||65||52.9%||53.5%||57.1%||54.2%||52.0%|
|Zach Hyman–Leon Draisaitl–Ryan Nugent-Hopkins||52||45.6%||47.4%||66.7%||46.1%||57.6%|
Hymans’s impressive season has sustained impact along each line he has played with. Consistently paired with either McDavid or Leon Draisatil, Hyman has proved his worth, as his superb underlying metrics translate into each line combination. Dependent on the line combination, Hyman has almost entirely controlled each metric, including puck possession, total shots for, total goals for, shot quality, and winning the high-danger chance battles.
Astounding but not unexpected when paired with Draisaitl and McDavid, this line controls almost 70% of the total goals when on the ice, including out-chancing the opposition in high-danger chances for 6.4 out of every ten. Hyman similarly holds 67% of the goal total alongside Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, yet this combination does not win the marginal battles for puck possession, total shots, and shot quality.
Edmonton is truly thankful for Hyman
Edmonton loves Zach Hyman, and Zach Hyman loves Edmonton. Though he has always been a standout hockey player who is noticeably strong with determination, this season has proven to be Hyman’s breakout.
Possibly undervalued during his tenure with the Toronto Maple Leafs, they passed on a heart and soul player who is turning into a bonafide star with the Oilers. Although he was snubbed as an All-Star, the current pace of eclipsing 100 points is an achievement only a few players receive the honour of obtaining. Though many believe his seven-year contract may not age well, his current play is endearing himself to the fan base. Oilers fans wholeheartedly wish to say, thank you, Toronto, for the gift that continues to give on and off the ice and for the highly respected individual who is Zach Hyman.
Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire