The man that has spent most of his Leafs career stapled to the wing of Auston Matthews, Zach Hyman improved ever so slightly on his 2016-17 performance.
He was never thought of to be a potential top-6 forward, but here he is and proving everyone wrong. Acquired by the Leafs after he refused to sign a contract with the Florida Panthers, and costing them only Greg McKegg going the other way, Hyman has grown to become a player that coaches and fans alike love to have on their team.
|GP||GOALS||ASSISTS||POINTS||CORSI % (5V5)||xGF% (5V5)|
His raw point totals aren’t all that impressive considering who his linemates were for most of the season, but Hyman has always been credited with “doing the hard work” on that line. Nothing particular sticks out to be terrible about his game, but he can work the corners and do all those things that make traditional hockey men ruin their pants.
His Game Score/60 of 1.97 was 8th among the whole team and hovering around the same number as other players like Tyler Johnson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and future teammate John Tavares.
Although not the strongest player when it comes to suppressing shot attempts, Hyman has still shown the capability to have more expected goals created than the opposition while he is on the ice with one of the best players in the league. Might just be a product of Matthews, but we will never find out because of Babcock’s love for Zach.
Zach Hyman played in all 82 games this season, finishing the year with 15 goals and 23 assists. Amongst Leafs forwards, he trailed only Auston Matthews for the most 5v5 ice time per game. pic.twitter.com/kGyV3T5BmE
— Ziggy (@Ziggy_14) April 21, 2018
According to Ziggy’s lovely snapshot, Hyman falls within the 2nd/3rd-line range and never really dips within 4th-line production. That is a very good sign for a player signed for so damn cheap.
Individually, Hyman is able to create more offense than he is usually credited for. His ixG60 is in the upper echelon of NHL talent. Among all NHL players that have logged at least 600 even-strength minutes this year, Hyman is 27th in that category. Hovering around the same position as Evgeni Malkin, Patrice Bergeron, Tomas Hertl, and Jake “Chili’s” Guentzel.
Of course Hyman has been awarded with some heavy ice-time next to Matthews, but he is no way anchoring that line and producing any negative value.
He is good for what he is. He won’t magically become an extremely skilled player like the man on the other side of Matthews, but Hyman contributes to the Leafs offense that has been one of the league’s best all-season-long.
Not particular to this season, but Hyman is also a best-selling author.
Under contract to the massive Penguin Random House publishing company, Hyman has written two children’s books with various sport themes. Bambino and Me stars a young Yankees fan who admires Babe Ruth, and his other book Hockey Hero tells a story of a young player overcoming the pressure put on by his more successful older brother.
Scoring the first Maple Leafs goal of this series was important by itself, but when Hyman scored this perfect, beautiful goal, my heart fluttered with excitement for this series.
That all came to a crashing end, but this goal was Hyman’s highlight and my highlight of his season.
In the foreseeable future, I cannot imagine a world where Babcock comes into training camp this fall and seperates Hyman from Matthews. They will be linemates until hell freezes over, or the Leafs offense is suddenly sucked dry and the line blender is needed.
He will always be hovering around the 40-point mark and will still play with that defensive edge that Mikey loves. I feel like we have already seen the best and worst of Zach Hyman – never really varying his play all that much and performing at the same rate for however long he stays in the blue and white.