As Beata does her best to woo Dougie Hamilton into signing with the Ottawa Senators, Brandon takes a look at whether or not the team should pursue Zach Hyman!
If there’s one thing that the Sens Sickos love, it’s inflicting pain on fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Throughout 2021, they’ve been rather successful in doing so; with ex-Leaf Connor Brown’s stock rising at a sizzling rate, and the Ottawa Senators having dealt their Ontario rivals some crushing losses in 2021.
In a similar vein to the acquisition of Brown, the Senators seem to be in prime position to take another bite out of the Leafs this summer, with stand-out forward Zach Hyman apparently set to test unrestricted free agency. Rumours have swirled about the 29 year-old turning down a $5M offer from the Leafs — though his agent denies this — but Toronto’s cap situation is dire, and barring a major change, they stand to lose Hyman to a higher bidder this summer.
Enter Pierre Dorion and DJ Smith. The Senators have shown some organizational respect for the Leafs over the past few years, kicked off by the acquisitions of Brown and Nikita Zaitsev, along with the hiring of Smith himself, a former assistant coach in Toronto. Since then, Ottawa has been littered with ex-Leafs like Tyler Ennis and Ron Hainsey, with the goal of bolstering their depth.
Hyman is another player that the Senators are all too familiar with. Even aside from having played for Smith, the Toronto native scored four goals and three assists through seven matchups against Ottawa this season, in what would have been a career year had he not missed 13 games with a knee injury. Coming off such a dominant campaign, and having introduced himself to the Senators to a painful degree, one has to think that Dorion is at least entertaining the idea of bringing Hyman into the fold.
On the ice, there is reason to believe that Hyman would be a natural fit. A right-handed shot that has characteristically played the left wing in Toronto, Hyman could bolster the Senators’ right wing depth by playing his strong side. Breakout seasons from Brown and Drake Batherson have provided some offence, but Hyman’s speed could really add an extra punch on the right side, and take some pressure off of Evgenii Dadonov, while off-setting the potential loss of Austin Watson in the Seattle Expansion Draft.
On the left side, the Senators are bolstered with offensive talent in Tkachuk, Tim Stützle, and the speedy Alex Formenton. Pairing that with a trio of Batherson, Hyman, and Brown could see the team take a step forward offensively in 2022.
Hyman’s underlying metrics back this up. Courtesy of HockeyViz.com, one can clearly see that he is capable of producing offence, even isolated from his all-star Maple Leafs teammates. As he approaches the age of 30, Hyman is unlikely to improve much further, but at his current clip, he could provide some much-needed scoring to this Ottawa lineup.
While Hyman does need to shore things up a bit in his own end of the ice — something that Smith’s defensive structure could help to accomplish — he still more than holds his own in the shot share department. Hyman concluded the 2021 campaign with a 52.26% Corsi rating, and career-best 59.96 expected goals percentage. At least to date, any defensive shortcomings have been offset by his ability to produce offensively.
The Senators certainly have enough cap room to sign Hyman, as well. Even with forthcoming extensions to the likes of Tkachuk and Batherson. Ottawa is in no danger of a cap crunch, and roughly $14.4 million will be freed up by the seemingly imminent departures of Artem Anisimov, Derek Stepan, and Ryan Dzingel. With Hyman set to command in the neighbourhood of $6 million on the open market, the Senators find themselves as one of the teams best suited to afford his services.
It now becomes a question of whether or not it’s an investment that the Senators should make. As the NHL returns to its standard divisional structure next season, Ottawa will again find themselves competing with powerhouse groups in the Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins, and Florida Panthers for a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs. As much as the team took a step forward in 2021, the Senators still appear to be a few years away from serious contention.
There is little doubt that Hyman would be a key contributor in Ottawa over the next two or three seasons, but he’ll then be in his early 30’s, and with something of a checkered injury history, one has to wonder what kind of player he would be when they hit their prime window of Stanley Cup contention. Any deal that carries a player into their twilight years is bound to age somewhat poorly by the end, but if Dorion is only going to get three good years out of a 6x6 deal, it may be best to look elsewhere. Any decision will have to be weighed carefully.
Of course, this is all provided that Hyman would even want to play in Ottawa. It could make more sense for him to sign with an immediate contender that may be willing to overpay for the remainder of his prime years.
There are 32 teams that would love to have Hyman’s services, and in terms of his on-ice impact, one could argue that there are few better fits than the Senators. They’ll have to take into consideration any looming cap circumstances, and the player’s injury history, but it’s possible that Hyman is a missing piece to push Ottawa into their window.
Let’s just hope he doesn’t place too much value on wearing #11.
If you were Pierre Dorion, would you do 6x6 for Zach Hyman?
This poll is closed