Heading into the bye week, Hyman has already achieved career highs offensively, with 26 goals and 60 points through 49 games
The Edmonton Oilers are getting more than envisioned out of forward Zach Hyman.
Heading into the bye week, Hyman is having another career year offensively, with 26 goals and 60 points through 49 games.
With 32 games remaining in the regular season, Hyman could challenge the 100-point plateau, which would be an incredible achievement for a player who never posted more than 41 points with the Toronto Maple Leafs before signing with the Oilers as a free agent.
Hyman, 30, has become an integral part of the Oilers offence and is currently third in team scoring behind Connor McDavid (41 goals, 92 points) and Leon Draisaitl (29 goals, 76 points).
“I think everyone has more personal success when the team wins,” Hyman said following the Oilers 7-3 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday, prior to the break. “It’s just the way things go — you score more goals when you’re winning and then you’re feeling good about your game and that breads individual confidence and success. I’m really enjoying winning, and what comes with that is personal success, and I’m enjoying that too.”
It is unlikely Oilers general manager Ken Holland envisioned a 90-point player when signing Hyman to a seven-year, $38.5-million contract as an unrestricted free agent prior to the 2021-22 season. The Toronto product was expected to be a solid complementary piece to McDavid and Draisaitl and has surpassed expectations.
Last season — his first with the Oilers — Hyman had 27 goals and 54 points in 76 games, which was a career high for him at the time. Improving on those totals this season has been an impressive achievement.
“I think the key is getting a lot of looks,” Hyman said. “Sometimes they go in and sometimes they don’t go in, and they’ve been going in more frequently of late, which is nice.”
Hyman had a goal and two assists in the win against Chicago, extending his point streak to seven games. Heading into the bye on a hot streak, the Oilers are hoping the week off doesn’t cool him down.
“You never say no to a week off,” Hyman smiled. “It’s better to feel good going into the break than not. I’m feeling good; the power-play time and that role in front of the net is where I think more of an opportunity comes into play for me.
“It’s probably the first time in my career I’ve been able to own that role and find success in that role. So, I’ve enjoyed finding chemistry with those guys and being part of that unit.”
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Half of Hyman’s goals this season have come on the power play. He’s the best net-front presence the Oilers have had with the man advantage since Ryan Smyth. Many of Hyman’s goals are similar to the ones Smyth used to score, in and around the blue paint.
“He is finishing more this season,” said Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft. “With him, I see a true leader — he doesn’t need anything to get him going. He gets himself going and he just goes out and makes people around him better.
“I’m thankful he’s a strong member of our forward group. He doesn’t wear a letter, but I think he’s a true leader of our team.”
The Oilers went into the break on a 7-0-1 stretch, dropping a point to the Columbus Blue Jackets in a 3-2 overtime loss. It was the only blemish in an excellent three-week stretch, which got the Oilers back into the thick of the playoff race.
Heading into the break, which will extend into the NHL All-Star weekend, the Oilers are holding down the first wild card spot in the Western Conference, currently behind the Seattle Kraken, Vegas Golden Knights and Los Angeles Kings in the Pacific Division standings.
The Oilers went into the break three points back of the Kraken and two back of each the Golden Knights and Kings.
With 32 games left in the season, it’s going to be a sprint to the finish and the Oilers are happy they were able to find consistency in their game leading into the week-long break. The Oilers will return from the break and head off on a four-game road trip, starting in Detroit on Feb. 7. They will also travel to face the Philadelphia Flyers, Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens before returning home to host the Red Wings on Feb. 15.
“I thought we responded really well and played really well in this last stretch,” Hyman said. “I don’t think we played poorly against Columbus, but we were only able to get the one point against them. I thought (Saturday) we responded really well, played well, got the two points and we feel good going into the break.”
The Oilers went into the break with just six points separating first from fifth in the Pacific Division. Every game will be important returning to the ice next week. The Oilers went into the season looking to get back in the playoffs and trying to improve on a Western Conference Final appearance last season.
“It’s great. It’s exciting because of how tight everything is in the Pacific,” Hyman said. “It’s anybody’s division right now and it’s going to be an exciting finish.”
On Twitter: @DerekVanDiest
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