1) Zach Hyman
There were those who believed the Oilers paid too much, to secure the services of Zach Hyman. However, as more time passes by, even the critics must accept seven years for $38.5 million is looking increasingly like a bargain.
Each of Hyman’s first two seasons in Edmonton saw him set new personal bests for points, and at his current rate, he’s going to do it again this season. Wednesday night saw him deservedly take home the game’s First Star.
That’s because the 31-year-old scored his second hat-trick of the season, and third of his career. As a result, he now leads the Oilers with 15 goals, while also being third in points and tied-first in plus/minus rating.
Hyman’s confidence is at an all-time high and was perfectly highlighted on his first goal, which he scored as a result of sheer force of will. He won a battle for the puck behind the Hurricanes net, turned the defender inside out and then fired home for the 3-0 lead just 5:46 into the contest.
Then, the Toronto native was set up perfectly by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, as he fired home the one-timer to make it 4-0. He would eventually get his hat-trick halfway through the final period, with the simplest of tap-ins, as a result of McDavid’s aforementioned piece of magic.
Hyman said postgame to the media, that he’s always trying to get better every season. However, he acknowledged that it helps playing with excellent talent, as he said:
"“I play with pretty good players. Connor (McDavid) set me up pretty nicely for the third one, and then (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) gave me a nice play for the second one, so, you got to have great linemates to be able to produce, and I’m fortunate to play with two of the best.”"
While Hyman’s team-first and humble attitude is refreshing, it doesn’t change the reality he’s a key component of the top six himself. And with 11 points in his past five games, he’s arguably never been playing better.
There were certainly other players worthy of consideration, including Foegele and Stuart Skinner. However, what’s most important is that the Oilers continued to roll, with them now sneaking to within six points of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.