Oilers’ Zach Hyman continues to prove he has been worthy every penny of his contract

Photo credit:© Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Mazzei
20 days ago
It’s fair to say that things have gone well for Zach Hyman since he signed with the Edmonton Oilers in the summer of 2021.
This has especially been the case in year three of his contract as he not only is closing in on the 50-goal plateau for the first time in his career but is also on pace to hit the 80-point mark for a second consecutive campaign. His 67 points have him tied for third on the Oilers in scoring alongside Evan Bouchard, and he is on the second-best PPG mark in his career.
Few could have envisioned these things when he signed his seven-year, $38.5 million deal three years ago, but the fact that he is doing all of this while only having the fifth-highest cap hit on the team is incredible value.
The contract is not even at the halfway point but it has already proven to be one of the best things that could have ever happened to Edmonton in their recent history.  You could even go as far as to say it is one the best free agent contracts of the salary cap era, which is what Steven Ellis of Daily Faceoff argued in his most recent article:
Hyman has always been capable of putting pucks in the net. But with his salary, and his career performance to date, scoring 50 seemed like an incredible stretch when he first moved to Alberta. Hyman joined the team at a time where finding secondary scoring was difficult, and with Hyman priced out of a new deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs, having a chance to play alongside Connor McDavid was a perfect fit.
Hyman did not get any of his points purely by accident, he has proven to play a vital role in McDavid’s excellence this season. Assisting on 27 of Hyman’s goals heading into tomorrow’s game against the Leafs, McDavid has a chance to have the 14th 100-assist season in NHL history and the first to do so since some guy named Wayne Gretzky did it back in 1990-91.
The fact McDavid is even in this position to begin with has been made possible primarily because of his on-ice chemistry with the Toronto native and the underlying numbers indicate the pair are able to get the best out of each other.
As for Hyman, he is having one of the best seasons ever from an even-strength goals perspective. Ellis notes that Hyman has the second most goals in the league since January 1st with 27, only one back of Auston Matthews. Among regulars this season, no one has a better Goals/60 rate at 5v5 than Hyman at 1.93. And with 35 goals at even strength this campaign at the time of writing, it is certainly doable for him to have the 60th season in league history with at least 40 even strength goals or more.
Some may wonder why Hyman was never able to reach these lofty heights while part of the Leafs organization. After all, he spent a lot of his time there sharing a line with Matthews and Mitch Marner who are among the top players in the league. But as Ellis points out, Matthews is the sniper, so Hyman had to get him the puck, while McDavid is the playmaker, so Hyman will receive the pass. It is that distinction in playstyle which has resulted in Hyman reaching far greater heights individually in Edmonton than he ever did in Toronto.
Hyman’s been fortunate to play with two of the NHL’s top superstars throughout his career, and people will discredit him for that – similar to four-time Stanley Cup champion Chris Kunitz from his days with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
But no winger has found the level of success with McDavid that Hyman has. You don’t fall into opportunities like that by accident—there’s no shortage of players dying for a chance to play with a future Hall of Famer. But Hyman’s ability to keep up with the pace and finish at a high rate makes him so valuable.
Simply put, Hyman has been worth every penny for the Oilers and has proven to be one of the best linemates McDavid has ever had not named Leon Draisaitl. Should he be able to maintain some consistently strong production over the next few years (and possibly a Stanley Cup), then Hyman’s contract will be revered in the same way Zdeno Chara and Marian Hossa were in Boston and Chicago respectively.
Few could have envisioned that Hyman would transform himself from a reliable supporting cast to among the best goal scorers in the league back in 2021, but that is exactly what he has done just three years into his contract. Not bad for a guy who will be making $5.5 million a season for the next half-decade.

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