After a .479 points per game NCAA campaign at Brown University, Garnet Hathaway found himself in the Flames organization. On just an AHL deal, he played his first professional season in 2014-15, scoring 36 points over 72 games. The Flames liked what they saw, so they signed him to his first NHL contract.
Hathaway’s first season saw him putting together pretty decent numbers in the AHL… until the trade deadline. At that point, he became the Flames’ first official recall as they rewarded him for over a year and a half of hard work, and just like that, the undrafted 24-year-old was playing in NHL games.
Hathaway’s season can be divided into three parts.
Part 1: Oct. 10, 2015-Feb. 28, 2016. Hathaway started his season with the Stockton Heat in the AHL. He played 35 games over this time frame, scoring six goals and 11 assists for 17 points: just about half a point per game, as he had been the season before.
Part 2: Feb. 29-March 26. With the Flames anticipating being down a forward following the trade deadline, they had him brought to Philadelphia, where the team was. Upon trading David Jones, they went down to 11 forwards, and so, Hathaway was officially called up: the first of the Flames’ four allotted recalls.
He played 14 games over this time, collecting three assists (one shorthanded), taking 31 penalty minutes (including one fight against Brent Burns), averaging 12:01 in ice time, taking 11 shots on net, blocking 17 that came his way, and throwing 50 hits. In short: general fourth line forward stuff, though he did get to play a little bit with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.
Part 3: March 30-April 17. With just seven games left in the Flames’ season, Hathaway was sent down so some other prospects could get a chance. He played in nine games for the Stockton Heat over this time, scoring two goals and two assists.
Hathaway’s final AHL stat line was eight goals and 21 points through 44 games: just barely under half a point per game, as he had been the season before. He finished ninth in team scoring. He had 87 shots on goal over that time: nearly two shots per game. He was 11th on the Heat in overall shots, and eighth in shots per game.
He provided a jump during his initial NHL games, but that can likely be attributed more to youthful enthusiasm and adrenaline than anything else. If he does make it to the next level, he probably won’t be playing beyond a fourth line role.
Impact on team
Top left has players in most difficult circumstances: more defensive zone starts and tougher competition. Bottom right has players in easiest circumstances: a lot of offensive zone starts and weak competition. The bigger a player’s circle, the more he plays. The bluer, the greater his possession relative to his teammates; the redder, the worse. Click on image for full-sized chart from Corsica.
Hathaway had a pretty small sample size in his time in the NHL. Even so, among Flames players, he saw the fourth easiest zone starts, behind just Emile Poirier (not pictured above; he barely played in the NHL this season), Jiri Hudler, and Markus Granlund. With that leg up, he finished with a 49.81% 5v5 CF: 13th out of everyone to play for the Flames in 2015-16, and the best of those who failed to reach the 50.00% mark.
He didn’t play quite the role other fourth liners on the Flames did – look at Matt Stajan and Brandon Bollig buried in zone starts – but at least he was a positive possession player relative to the rest of his team. Those are very small victories, though.
What comes next?
Hathaway still has another year on his deal. He’ll turn 25 years old on Nov. 23, so it’s not as though he’s a young player starting to find his stride: this is likely what he is. A capable enough AHL player who, when placed with the right people, can turn it on (his time with Kenny Agostino and Freddie Hamilton – two players who had much more productive overall seasons – generated a fair amount of offence for the Heat).
Should Hathaway make it back to the NHL, the next test would likely be seeing if he can handle being less sheltered. Josh Jooris was in a similar position: as a rookie he was heavily sheltered and had solid possession numbers; as a sophomore, he received more defensive zone starts, and still held his own for the most part.
Hathaway might be a poor man’s Jooris – but Jooris wasn’t quite as sheltered and still put up a better corsi rel, so even that might be a reach. Hathaway had a fun cup of coffee in the NHL, but it might not go much beyond that.