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The Day After 57.0: 40th goal of season from Zach Hyman helps lift Oilers over Blues

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
1 month ago
Worst contract in the league? Yeah right. Put 12 Zach Hyman’s on your team, and you will likely go far.
These Edmonton Oilers, mind you, have just one, but he’s more than enough to help this engine run. It was much of the same on Wednesday night, as he tickled the twine twice, hitting the 40-goal plateau for the first time in his career.
It was a huge lift to the Oilers, who scored three unanswered to beat the St. Louis Blues. Next up: 50.
“I’m sure it’s on his mind a little bit, but scoring 40 is a huge accomplishment,” said Oilers captain Connor McDavid, who busted a 10-game goalless drought to win the game 3-2 in overtime. “I’m sure there’s lots of people out there that were doubting him earlier in his career, judging him just by how he looked on the ice.
“He’s the epitome of ‘work for everything he’s got,’ and he’s done that in spades. In Edmonton, he’s fit right in and continues to score big goals for us.”

THE DAY AFTER IS PRESENTED BY BETWAY


He’s Ryan Smyth 2.0, the ultimate “bring your lunchpail” player who is never shy of getting his nose dirty and scoring the greasy goals. But with Hyman, he makes the greasy ones look pretty.
Take his first of two last night, for example. He’s down low in front of the net on the power play, and beats out Blues defenceman Nick Leddy for positioning. Connor McDavid sends the pass in, and Hyman takes it on his forehand, quickly to his backhand and into the top corner of the net. Despite being less than a foot from netminder Jordan Binnington, Hyman gave him no chance.
Or his second of the game, the one that saw him hit the 40-goal mark. Two-on-one with McDavid, and Hyman drives to the opposite post. Stick on the ice, into the back of the net.
Greasy, pretty, beautiful: whatever word you want to call it, Zach Hyman is the perfect Edmonton Oiler — and a humble one, at that.
“I play with the best player in the world, so I’m very fortunate and very aware I’m pretty lucky,” said Hyman after the game. “It’s obviously one of the big reasons I chose to come here was to have the opportunity to play with Connor. It doesn’t happen overnight, obviously. You learn and I think a lot of that has to do with communication.
“He thinks the game so well, so if I’m able to think it with him and get to spots he can get the puck to, we’ll have a good chance to score. I just keep trying to get open, and you guys are on him for not scoring, but it’s because he’s making those plays and I’m the benefactor. He’s a generational player.”
When Hyman arrived in Edmonton as a free agent in 2021, nobody expected what he has been able to do. Once riding shotgun to Auston Matthews, Hyman was a fine player in his days in Toronto. After all, 86 goals and 185 points in 345 games is nothing to scoff at.
But in Edmonton, saddled alongside McDavid and co., he’s hit another level. Through his first 211 games across his last three seasons, he’s scored a staggering 103 goals and 196 points, already surpassing what he did in double the time in Toronto. While solid in his first season with 27 goals and as many assists, Hyman checked the boxes of what many were expecting, but nobody expected what would come.
Last season, he hit career highs in all three scoring categories with 36 goals, 47 assists and 83 points. This year? He’s already topped his goal total, and is on pace to set a new career high in points.
And across these last two campaigns, he’s found himself with the best of them offensively. His cumulative point totals from last year and this rank 23rd among all NHL players, while his 76 goals are behind seven other players, two of whom being McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
No matter what happens from here, the seven-year, $38.5-million deal he signed is looking like one of the best free-agent signings in NHL history.

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 zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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