Toronto Maple Leafs winger Zach Hyman has consistently received the praises of head coach Mike Babcock, much to the chagrin of several fans who'd rather see him in a lesser role on the team.
He regularly slides into the top line, due to his willingness to compete for pucks and skate hard. He only posted 28 points last season in 82 games, and while his 16 in 34 games this year are an improvement, it's not the offensive production you expect from a top line player, especially given the talented linemates he has.
That being said, Detroit Red Wings star Dylan Larkin predicts great things to come from Hyman, and that it's only a matter of time before we start seeing them.
“Once he gets more confident, I think he will be an even better player,” Larkin said, as reported by Toronto Sun's Terry Koshan.
“He is a role player, he understands that and and he will do anything for the team. When he gets more confidence, I think you will see him be able to use his speed in one-on-ones and beat guys more and score some pretty goals.”
Larkin played a year of hockey with Hyman at University of Michigan. Hyman led the team in points that year with 54 in only 37 games. He outpaced Larkin, and it was a meteoric rise from his production the year before, when he only managed 17 points in 35 games.
Could he be the next Paul Byron of the Montreal Canadiens? He was written off by Calgary Flames management and placed on waivers. General manager Marc Bergevin picked him up and subsequently made him one of the best waiver claims in recent memory. Byron scored 22 goals last season and is on pace for 23 this year. The goals come from a strong work ethic, a willingness to get in the dirty areas, and most importantly, his wicked speed.
Hyman and Byron are quite similar, and if Larkin is right, Hyman could become a 20-goal scorer in not too long.