Zach Hyman was an academic all-American at the University of Michigan and he’s an accomplished author of three children’s works, which shows his Renaissance Man side.
Zach Hyman was an academic all-American at the University of Michigan and he’s an accomplished author of three children’s works, which shows his Renaissance Man side.
But the book on him, if you’re a member of Oiler Nation, is he’s hockey’s pre-eminent worker bee.
His game is blue-collar where there are no days off, which is exactly what Edmonton general manager Ken Holland is now paying him $38.5 million over the next seven years for. To be the dirt road player beside Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, whichever centre the left-winger winds up with.
If the Oilers had a missing piece in their top-six before, they don’t now. If they needed several sheets of sandpaper, they’ve got it now with Hyman, along with his tool kit.
He is the 2021 version of the mulletted Ryan Smyth; works the boards, gets it to the net, takes a couple of cross-checks, keeps on smiling and supports the stars.
In his first two years at U of Michigan, playing for the tough-love Red Berenson, Hyman had nine points each season, 18 points in 79 games. By his fourth year there, playing with Dylan Larkin, Hyman was a Hobey Baker finalist as NCAA’s best player, and a brainiac in the classroom with a love of history.
A year later he was in the NHL, with the Toronto Maple Leafs, because he willed himself to get there.
And now he is here with the Oilers, video-conferencing Wednesday, fittingly with a picture of No. 99 in the background.
“Yeah, a print of Wayne Gretzky, an Andy Warhol copy,” he said.
Hyman, who had 43 points in 53 games, was the most annoying, most impressive Maple Leafs player in their three-game series blowout of the Oilers at Rogers Place this past season.
If he wasn’t dogging McDavid, he was in Mike Smith’s face. The Oilers noticed, and when the Leafs had no room to keep him because they’re paying Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander $40.4 million on the cap, they romanced Hyman.
“His greatest trait is his compete. He’s a forechecker, he’s relentless, he’s on the puck,” said Holland. “We needed, along with the addition of Warren Foegele, forwards who can try to create more pressure in the offensive zone. We don’t want to be just a rush team.”
Just because you do grunt work doesn’t mean you can play with the big guns, though.
“Zach has great hockey sense. When you play with star players, and he’s played with a lot with some of the greatest young players in Toronto, you have to think at their level. Plus, if he plays down the lineup, he’s got the game to do that and read off their grinding style. He brings a tremendous amount of versatility,” said Holland.
Hyman, his wife, Alannah, and even their Siberian husky, Lady, were all ears when the Oilers were wooing the forward, even the four-legged one.
“I think my dog’s the most excited to be going to Edmonton,” laughed Hyman, who came here for a summer relationship-building visit a week ago while his dog will probably flourish in the snow in January.
The trip to Edmonton was crucial for Hyman.
“I paid my way out there with my wife. Only place I visited. If Edmonton was a place I wanted to play in, it was important for me to see the city. My wife’s never been there and this season, when I was in Edmonton, I was stuck at the hotel,” he said.
“We saw all the neighbourhoods we could potentially live in, we have a seven-month-old son named Theo and it was important we see where he could maybe go (to school). It was important to check all the boxes. Toured the rink and, as you all know, it’s an incredible facility, met the management team.”
He did his homework too. Hey, he had a 4.0 grade-point average in college.
“Once Edmonton came to the forefront from a hockey fit, for the opportunity to win a Stanley Cup, seeing the city, knowing the passion, the fan base, all the boxes seemed to be checked. Once I closed the door on Toronto, it was Edmonton all the way. A no-brainer,” said Hyman, who talked to McDavid as well as former teammates Tyson Barrie and Tyler Ennis, who all gave him two thumbs up.
Obviously, the chance to play with McDavid or Draisaitl was a selling point.
“They’re two of the best players in the world. Connor is a generational player. I had the opportunity to play with Auston and Mitch, John and Willy (Nylander). With Connor, his speed is off the charts. I’ll try to get him the puck as much as possible and give him second and third opportunities. If I can get the puck into his hands, we’ll be in good shape.”
Seven years is a long time on the body for the pounding game Hyman plays, also a 29-year-old. If Hyman plays like he normally does as one of the NHL’s premier support players, he’ll be worth every penny of his $5.5 million price tag.
And he can keep penning his children’s books, like: Hockey Hero, The Bambino and Me, and The Magician’s Secret. They bring out a softer side of a hard-to-play-against NHLer.
“It’s so important to be a multi-faceted individual because the hockey season is a roller-coaster,” said Hyman, who’s decided on a new ride with the Oilers.
On Twitter: @jimmathesonnhl
Felix Auger-Aliassime stood at the back of the IGA Stadium hardcourt with one hand on his hip and a look of astonishment on his face.
Casper Ruud managed to get his racket on an overhead smash late in Friday’s quarterfinal at the National Bank Open, the return floating over Auger-Aliassime’s head and inside the baseline.
Auger-Aliassime scrambled back but his shot found the net. Nothing was working for him on this day — not even the tennis equivalent of a slam dunk — in a 6-1, 6-2 rout that lasted just 74 minutes.
“(My) first two matches were good, some positive things,” Auger-Aliassime said. “I never thought it would be ending like this today.”
The sixth-seeded Auger-Aliassime entered play without dropping a set this week but he came out flat on an overcast afternoon. Ruud, the No. 4 seed from Norway, wrapped up the first set in a brisk 36 minutes and took the partisan crowd out of the match.
Auger-Aliassime, from Montreal, made 21 unforced errors to just eight for Ruud, who advanced to his third Masters 1000 semifinal of the season.
“It was a perfect day for me at the office,” Ruud said.
Auger-Aliassime was the last Canadian remaining in the draw. Ruud who will next play No. 8 Hubert Hurkacz of Poland, a 7-6 (4), 6-7 (5), 6-1 winner over Nick Kyrgios.
Auger-Aliassime was hoping to become the first Canadian to reach the semifinals at this ATP Tour event since Denis Shapovalov in 2017. The last Canadian to win this tournament was Robert Bedard in 1958.
“It’s super disappointing to lose any tournament like this and especially here,” Auger-Aliassime said.
Unseeded players were scheduled to play in the evening quarterfinals. American T
In a match between two unseeded players, Britain’s Daniel Evans defeated American Tommy Paul 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 to advance.
Evans will next play Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta, who defeated British qualifier Jack Draper 7-6 (4), 6-1 in the last of Friday’s quarterfinal matches.
Auger-Aliassime couldn’t get on track despite regular urging from the near-capacity crowd. He was shanking more shots than usual and his mistakes came at critical times.
With a powerful forehand and effective two-handed backhand, Ruud was clinical in his attack and relentless with pressure. Auger-Aliassime was forced to his heels and had to settle for a defensive style.
The Canadian gave up two quick breaks in the second set before finally holding serve to get to 1-4.
“To right away lose my service game, then another one … from three-love, it really felt like the worst possible outcome today,” Auger-Aliassime said. “At that point it gets really tough.
“I tried my best, but he was also getting more and more comfortable and confident, so then things get much more difficult.”
Earlier in the day, Hurkacz took advantage of two double-faults by Kyrgios early in the third set for the first service break of their match. He rolled from there to end the Australian’s nine-match winning streak.
“Nick is a super opponent, he can make every single shot,” Hurkacz said. “He doesn’t really have that many weaknesses, if any. I was just trying to serve (well) and stay aggressive.”
There was no wasted energy from Kyrgios, who played like he had a cab waiting outside the venue.
He’d usually bounce the ball just once and go right into his service motion. The pace of play agreed with Hurkacz, a six-foot-five right-hander who matched the Australian’s power game.
Both players had break opportunities but tiebreakers were needed to settle the first two sets.
Kyrgios, who dispatched defending champ and world No. 1 Daniil Medvedev in the second round, slowed in the third set and his serve lost some of its zip.
“I’m not a machine, I’m a human,” Kyrgios said. “My knees were sore, my back was sore, my abdominal (area) was sore. I was trying to stay moving, but I just stiffened up.”
Kyrgios entered play with wins in 15 of his last 16 matches, with the only defeat coming to Novak Djokovic in last month’s Wimbledon final.
The semifinals are set for Saturday and the final of the US$6.57-million tournament goes Sunday. The winner will earn just over $915,000.
Sweden made its presence felt in an all-European matchday at the 2022 World Juniors.
The Junior Crowns established their dominance in Group B with a convincing 6-0 win over Austria. They will fight for a first-place finish in the group stage with the United States on Sunday.
Without two of their best young forwards, Red Wings eighth overall pick in 2022 Marco Kasper and Canadiens second-rounder Vinzenz Rohrer, Austria struggled against the Swedes. The good news for the Austrians is that there is no relegation in this rescheduled version of the World Junior Championship.
Slovakia salvaged their disappointing run in Edmonton by clinching their spot in the quarterfinal round.
The Slovaks — without the top two picks in the 2022 Draft in Juraj Slafkovsky and Simon Nemec — fell 5-4 against their Czech rivals then 11-1 against Canada earlier in the tournament. In their third game on Friday, Slovakia were held up by Latvia but finally took a 3-2 win in a shootout.
The loss means that Latvia will finish in the depths of the tournament. The Latvians can find solace in the fact that the country stood up to Slovakia and at least snagged away one point from their European counterparts.
Here is a look at the top performances from Day 4 of the World Juniors:
Sweden had yet to score on the power play at Rogers Place yet but Rosen rose to the occasion with one goal and one assist.
After a first period where the Swedes had 21 shots but only one goal, Rosen added a second goal to his tournament tally and broke their power play drought.
The Austrians forgot about the winger near the right faceoff circle. Fabian Lysell located Rosen with a cross-ice pass of his own and the young winger bagged in the one-timer on one knee.
Rosen later told Swedish media that this was an important goal for his country after they spent the pre-tournament and the first game of the WJC without scoring on the power play.
The Buffalo Sabres prospect is known for his strong shot but he also has quite the passing ability. Rosen used his physicality to impose himself and get Sweden another goal.
The 19-year-old dispossessed Austria’s Tim Geifes along the boards and then found his captain Emil Andrae with a swift cross-ice pass to notch his country’s fourth goal of the game.
Rosen will cross the pond to North America for the first time for the upcoming season. The wingers will play for the Rochester Americans of the AHL and be yet another addition to the young Sabres pipeline.
Honourable mention: Slovakia’s Adam Sykora blew away the few fans in attendance with a flash of brilliance to get his country levelled 1-1 in the first period. He skated his way past a defenceman then made a give-and-go play with Jakub Demek to fool Lativian goalie Bruno Bruveris.
Slovakia will try to channel the relief from their shootout win against the high-flying Finns on Sunday. On their end, the Latvians will hope to hold another close game on Sunday against Czechia.
A defenceman with two goals in a single game is always worth mentioning. Emil Andrae returned to the ice after a season-ending injury with HV71 and helped his team find another gear in the second period.
The 54th overall pick by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2021 was touted as a blueliner that can play on both sides of the puck and proved it against Austria.
Sweden’s captain scored twice in the span of 1:05 to keep the Austrians at bay and secure the victory.
The five-foot-nine defenceman took advantage of Rosen’s forced turnover to score his first goal. Andrae found himself in a perfect position to utilize his heavy wrister on the power play.
Andrae added his second goal from the point with another wrist shot directed in traffic to get Sweden up by four goals. The captain chipped in a late secondary assist in the third period to finish the game with three points and a plus-2 differential.
On an all-European afternoon, Fabian Lysell made his experience of North American ice felt. The winger made sure to remind hockey fans that the Boston Bruins drafted him in the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft.
Lysell finished the game with one goal and one assist. He joins his teammates Rosen and Andrea as Sweden’s leading scorers with three points each.
The winger may have missed a penalty shot but he bounced back admirably with a goal a few seconds later.
From a very tight angle, Lysell found the tiniest bit of space above Austrian netminder Sebastian Wraneschitz’s shoulder to score Sweden’s fifth of the game.
The winger showed that his game isn’t too far away from the NHL and that he doesn’t mind getting his nose dirty. The Swede, who is used to North American ice playing for the Vancouver Giants of the WHL, crashed Wraneschitz’s net early on in the game in an attempt to kickstart Sweden’s domination.
Lysell and his country-mates will need to keep the pace up as Sweden looks to take on the Americans on Sunday and the surprising Germans on Monday.
The Montreal Canadiens have several prospects in action at this summer’s World Junior Hockey Championship in Edmonton. In today’s episode of Habsent Minded Extra, I’m taking a look at how fifth-rounder Joshua Roy has become a key member of the powerhouse Canadians in their quest for gold.
He has played most of his minutes so far on the top line with Mason McTavish and Connor Bedard. That trio has been relied upon to drive offense for the team so far, and while their initial contest against Latvia was somewhat lukewarm, they exploded against Slovakia on Thursday night.
In a selfless act, Roy gave up a chance at a breakaway and his first goal of the tournament by passing to McTavish, and insisting that the latter take his attempt at notching the hat trick, which he did.
#GoHabsGo Joshua Roy is an exemplary teammate.
Foregoes a breakaway and dishes to Mason McTavish, and points to the net, letting him know he doesn’t want it back and wants his linemate to go for the hatty.
He gets the hatty. pic.twitter.com/Sv1nPXHVm9
— Matt Drake (@DrakeMT) August 11, 2022
With the game well in hand for Canada in the third period, head coach Dave Cameron brought out the line blender. This saw Roy shifted down in the lineup to play with Islanders prospect William Dufour, and Senators prospect Zack Ostapchuk. An eyebrow raiser at first given Roy’s performance, but it yielded results almost immediately.
Roy scored his first goal of the tournament, and added an assist on an Ostapchuk goal to finish with four points against Slovakia, tying him for second in tournament scoring behind McTavish.
Whether that line blending sticks or not, Roy showed in this game is that he can produce wherever they put him in the lineup. With Dufour and Ostapchuk, he actually gets to play more of a similar trigger-man role that he’s used to in Sherbrooke, and it may even help his overall production.
His selflessness, and acceptance of a checking and puck retrieval role with the top guns means they can put him right back on that top line as well. After barely missing out on the roster for the ill-fated December 2021 tournament, he has established himself as a versatile tool for team Canada.
That versatility should earn him plenty of playing time for the remainder of this tournament, and could make him a no-brainer for a big role with the team when they reconvene in December for the next one.
Click the play button below to listen to my full thoughts on Roy’s hot start ahead of tonight’s game against Czechia.
Coronavirus Update: Pregnant women who receive mRNA COVID-19 vaccines aren't more at risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, new study confirms – The Globe and Mail
Remembering Dori Klaaren and her art – Niagara Frontier Publications
More Canadians report stronger attachment to their language than to Canada: poll – CTV News
Remains of small armor-plated dinosaur found in Argentina – Mint Lounge
Charting the Global Economy: US Inflation Comes Off the Boil – BNN Bloomberg
Canada hasn’t needed to declare monkeypox an emergency, top doctor says. Here’s why – Global News
Have we been treating depression the wrong way for decades? – CBC News
Canada’s Auger-Aliassime falls to Ruud in National Bank Open quarterfinals – Sportsnet.ca