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Despite injuries, Zach Hyman put together his most complete season as a Leaf

There was probably an article somewhere titled: Zach Hyman? Sink or swim?

Boy, he swam this year. I doubt there’s much debate this was his best year as a Leaf of his three full years.

I think this was my favourite goal of the season. Not just by Hyman, but by any player.


After falling behind 3-0 in the game against Montreal, Hyman’s 4-3 goal with just under two minutes left clinched the Leafs’ seventh consecutive victory over the Canadiens.  The Leafs, including Hyman, scored two more empty netters to make it a 6-3 score.

Those goals were two of 21 that Hyman scored this season, a career high, while picking up 20 assists, en route to 41 points, also a career high. Was that sentence great? No, but you got the point anyway. Zach Hyman had a pretty good year overall, so let’s talk about it.

Season recap:

Hyman had a knack for coming up big at a few times this year, scoring four game-winners. Besides the Montreal goal, he also scored this beauty against Pittsburgh.

Numbers looked good, play looked good, Head and Shoulders commercials looked good, he launched an e-sports company, and… well, Zach Hyman earned his $2.25 million contract. Two years left on it.

He did suffer an ankle injury in December that forced him out of the lineup for 11 games. Then he came back and was mostly fine. So there’s that tidbit.

Stats and charts:

From Natural Stat Trick (5v5 only):

You can see that Hyman performed about the same as he usually does, with one exception: he put the puck in the net a litte more. An increased shooting percentage and a slightly higher shot rate than last year showed he clicked well playing with Tavares and Marner for much of the season.

A quick look at GAR= Evolving-Hockey.com’s Goals Above replacement model, which compares Hyman with a replacement-level player in terms of the overall team goal input they’d produce in a number of different categories.

A quick legend:

(EV =even strength, PP =power play,  SH= Shorthanded, Pens= Penalty differential,)

Hyman came out as the Leafs’ fifth best forward this season, which may come as a surprise.

Preseason Expectations

Preseason Player Previews: Zach Hyman

Some excerpts from our own Ryan Hobart, in the above linked piece from September:

  • Things are going to change suddenly for Zach Hyman, but perhaps not too drastically. As mentioned above, next season he is slated to join John Tavares and Mitch Marner on a line.
  • We know that Tavares, thus far, has been a more complete player than Matthews, so perhaps this line will spend more time in the offensive zone as a result, giving peripheral benefits to Hyman.
  • He’s useful, and can hold his own. He’s no star, but he’s not paid or played like a star. He’s relied on to be a support player, unselfish, the way Tyler Bozak always was with Phil Kessel. And, at the end of the day, despite the fact that he’s not the primary contributor, the line generates and prevents goals at a high level, and unless that stops, we’ve got nothing to complain about.

Turned out decent, Ryan!

Highlights:

Another very fun goal was this one.

Did Drake curse Zach? You be the judge.

Grade:

Hyman gets a B+ from me. He did have a pretty decent year considering his expectations, but he’s still just in the category of “pretty good” players. He’s extremely hard-working, forechecks well, plays in any situation, put up a career-high in points… and finished 47 and 53 points behind his regular linemates in points. A good year, but he’s the clear #3 forward on that line. If he’s got something to work on, it’s his hands (and uh, the other thing we’ll talk about in a second.)

Final thoughts:

A decently solid year without much reward come playoff time. One point in seven games, the aforementioned goal, although his linemates weren’t creating much at 5v5 either. But then, of course, there was this.

Today, Hyman posted this on twitter.

Godspeed, Zach. See you in November. December? Enjoy rehab, and rest up well. We’ll need you out there.

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