A Perfect Fit
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
5 months ago
Just when Edmonton Oilers fans think they couldn’t possibly like @Zach Hyman more than they already do, he delivered a “one of the best decisions of my life” remark about leaving the Toronto Maple Leafs as an unrestricted free agent last summer to ink a seven-year deal with the Oilers in a meeting with reporters Tuesday.
While I wasn’t sure what to make of Hyman when his name first came up last summer because, frankly, I didn’t know much about him beyond what his numbers were, there’s no question the seven-year deal worth $38.5 million – a $5.5 million AAV – he inked with the Oilers is so far looking like money well spent.
Hyman, who turns 30 Thursday, delivered the best season of his NHL career in goals, assists and points with 27-27-54 with his willingness to chase down loose pucks and go to the net no matter where he was employed in the line-up. As a bonus, he’s one of those guys who is obviously happy in his work. Hyman has 421 regular season NHL games in the books, but still looks thrilled to be playing hockey for a living. In that regard, he reminds me a bit of Ryan Smyth.
With Hyman, who finds time to write children’s books and operate E-sports company Eleven Holdings Corp. when he isn’t playing for the Oilers, there’s no drama. Hyman is a terrific player and, by all accounts, as likable a young man as you’ll meet. It was remarkable how fans of the Maple Leafs talked about Hyman after he’d signed with the Oilers. Then, his remarks this week. What’s not to like?
WHAT HE SAID
May 24, 2022; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN;The Edmonton Oilers celebrate a goal by forward Zach Hyman (18) against the Calgary Flames during the first period in game four of the second round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
“I thought I was going to be a good fit when I decided to come here, but it’s been kind of everything and more,” Hyman said. “Just honestly one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life to come here and play with these guys. Everybody has just been so welcoming in the city. We talked about the fans a little bit and the players making not just me feel comfortable, but my family feel comfortable – my wife and my son. I’m just really happy to be here for a long time.”
With 11-5-16 in 16 post-season games, including two goals in Monday’s season-ending 6-5 OT loss to Colorado, and nine goals in the final nine games, Hyman was a force in the playoffs. He was fourth in team scoring behind the ridiculously hot Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl and one point back of Evander Kane.
“Obviously disappointed. Only one team leaves happy,” Hyman said of being swept 4-0 by Colorado. “We made it to the final four. Given the roller-coaster nature of the season it was a little bit unorthodox . . . we were able to stick together. One thing about this group is we didn’t quit. We believed in each other.”
While the media spotlight can burn bright in Toronto, which is Hyman’s hometown, watching fans here get revved up was a bit of an eye-opener. “It’s awesome,” Hyman said. “The loudest rink I’ve played in for sure. Just an incredible fan base that’s so supportive. People here are just nice, polite and just happy to have you on their team and to be fans. It’s awesome. It’s amazing playing in front of fans like that.”