Zach and Warren
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
1 year ago
Here in Oil Country, where it’s never too soon to jump to conclusions, I’m comfortable saying new additions Zach Hyman and Warren Foegele have pretty much-delivered everything you could reasonably expect of them in their first four games with the Edmonton Oilers. Fair?
Hyman and Foegele were at it again Thursday in a 5-1 waltz over the Arizona Coyotes. Hyman, who came from Toronto and inked a seven-year deal worth $38.5 million during the off-season, scored the 2-0 goal shorthanded and made it 4-1 with a blue paint gimme on the power play. As impressive as Hyman’s point-per-game clip (3-1-4) is, points don’t tell the whole story — which is what people who know him said when the Oilers got him.
We watched Foegele, who came from Carolina in a swap for Ethan Bear and signed a three-year deal for $8.25 million, put the Oilers up 1-0 with a sweet inside-outside move on defenceman Dysin Mayo, a former Edmonton Oil King. Foegele is a third-liner on the depth chart, but the big left winger has three points (1-2-3) going into Vegas tonight. He skates. He hits. He’s a player.
The Oilers are rolling along 4-0 as they face the Golden Knights and captain Connor McDavid has picked up where he left off last season, tearing it up again with 11 points, but for me Foegele and Hyman have looked like money in the bank and their play so far is the storyline that grabs my attention. And, yes, it’s early.
Oct 13, 2021; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Zach Hyman (18) and Vancouver Canucks defensemen Quinn Hughes (43) chase a loose puck during the third period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
“I think it was the first time I’ve done that,” Hyman said of scoring shorthanded and on the power play in the same game. “It’s great to contribute, obviously. Shorthanded, you’re just trying to kill a penalty and luckily, we got a break there. Nuge made a great play up, Doc (Darnell Nurse) jumped up in the rush for a 2-on-1. And on the powerplay, I’m just trying to fit in with those guys. They’ve been at it for a long time. Just get to the net and bang one home.
“Those guys make it easy. They’ve been together for so long. They know where each other are. For me in front of the net, I just try to create space, screen when there’s a shot, and get to the back side because all those guys can find the back side, get it over a stick, whatever the case may be.” Hyman’s post-game is here.
As for Foegele, he, Derek Ryan and Zack Kassian have been providing coach Dave Tippett with everything he could ask for from a third line, including the kind of offensive contribution that was lacking that deep in the line-up last season.
“A big goal on a great individual effort,” Tippett said of Foegele’s 1-0 goal late in the first period. “He’s kind of like a bull in a China shop out there. Just bulled his way down the wing, got to it on net and it went in. He’s been a really solid player for us here. He comes as advertised. He’s hard and he’s heavy. He goes to the net and he’s contributing on some PK for us, too. He’s a good player.”
THE BOTTOM LINE
GM Ken Holland’s to-do list this off-season had a lot of boxes to check off. Among them, he needed another scoring option in the top-six group of forwards. Hyman is providing that, and much more with his nose for the puck, willingness to forecheck and his ability to penalty kill. If he’s not near the puck, he’s on the way.
Likewise, Holland needed more out of his bottom six forward group. Foegele has helped provide that, jump-starting a third line that bangs some and scores some. As part of that process, Kassian has been as engaged and as good as we’ve seen him in a long time. That is no small matter.
So far, so good. Better than that, actually.
Previously by Robin Brownlee
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