Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Oilers’ Zach Hyman, Evan Bouchard among top Hart Trophy, Norris Trophy candidates, The Athletic says
By Zach Laing2 months ago
With the NHL now through the season’s quarter mark, it’s the time of the season when conversations begin about potential award winners at the season’s end.
Sure, we’re months and months away with more runway than not left in the season, but it offers a chance to see where the best of the best are slotting in, at least early in the season.
And over at The Athletic, Dom Luszczyszyn’s first look at potential award winners was released Monday, with a few Oilers cropping up.
While it’s almost standard practice for Connor McDavid to start in any Hart Trophy conversation, that isn’t quite the case this year. Undoubtedly, he has ramped up his game recently, but Zach Hyman’s name has slid into Luszczyszyn’s top 10, sitting with the seventh-best net rating, which he uses to evaluate talent.
Hyman, however, has scored 12 goals and 23 points and been an absolute force for the Oilers in this still-youthful season, sitting third in Oilers scoring behind McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, each at 29.
“I imagine Connor McDavid will find his way into the top 10 next month and it’s probably odd to see Zach Hyman there instead,” Luszczyszyn opined. “That will change in due time, but for now, it’s worth pointing out Hyman’s massive offensive impact this season. He leads the Edmonton Oilers with 1.53 goals per 60, 2.87 points per 60 and 4.4 on-ice goals per 60.
“The last stat is the reason he’s here — the next highest Oiler, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, is at 3.9 followed by McDavid at 2.8. That’s a huge gap that illustrates how hopeless Edmonton’s offense (sic) has been without Hyman on the ice so far.”
Hello, Evan Bouchard.
Say whatever you will, but it’s time for people around the NHL to notice how impactful this player is. There’s no denying there’s a plethora of room for growth defensively, but his offensive impacts on the game.
Bouchard’s offensive rating of +4.8 is fourth among the listed defencemen behind Erik Karlsson, Quinn Hughes, and Cale Makar, but his defensive rating of -.8, the lowest of listed defencemen, is a 1.2 rating swing from Karlsson’s +.4 rating.
What is shows, however, is just how vital his offensive game is, filling in for any of the warts his defensive game holds at this point in his career.
Ah, there they are.
It’s no surprise that McDavid and Draisaitl are cropping up here. Despite both being behind Nikita Kucherov’s torrid 40 points in 24 games to start the year, McDavid and Draisaitl are projected to be right in the thick of it by season’s end.
Luszczyszyn projects 95 points in the final 60 games for McDavid, a 1.58-point-per-game pace, and 82 points for Draisaitl, a 1.36-point-per-game pace. Their respective paces over the three seasons before this? McDavid at 1.75, and Draisaitl at 1.49.
Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at email@example.com.
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