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The curious case of Garnet Hathaway

Garnet Hathaway has become an intriguing player as of late.

Initially he played in the Flames’ season opener, but was sent down to make way for Jaromir Jagr. Since then, he was playing in the AHL – at least until it was found out Kris Versteeg would be out long-term, and back up he came.

Nobody is going to mistake Hathaway for Versteeg. Versteeg is a smaller, shiftier player; Hathaway’s game is much more physically-oriented. Hathaway certainly doesn’t replace Versteeg’s spot on the powerplay, but when it comes to playing in the bottom six, yeah, he fits in there.

This was addressed a little in the mailbag, but let’s do a deeper dive. When Jagr returns from injury, will that see Hathaway bumped from the third line to the fourth? They’re both right wingers, though Hathaway is a right shot, compared to Jagr’s left. Hathaway can’t really contend with the general mythos that is Jagr, but nobody really can – but like nobody will mistake Hathaway for Versteeg, nobody will mistake his skill set for Jagr’s, either.

Four points in seven games, though.

Hathaway the AHLer

Undrafted, Hathaway was plucked out of Brown University following his senior year. His junior year was his best in the NCAA, 21 points in 33 games being his career high. The Flames got him to join the Abbotsford Heat to close out his 2013-14 season, and liked him enough to not only bring him to training camp, but have him join the Adirondack Heat for a season – and after 36 points in 72 games, sign an NHL contract.

Since then, Hathaway has made NHL appearances each season. In 2015-16, he had 21 points in 44 games for the Stockton Heat; he also made his NHL debut, scoring three assists over 14 games with the Flames.

The 2016-17 season saw him perform even better: 20 points in 31 games for the Heat, while at the NHL level he scored his first career goal and registered five points over 26 games.

That’s brought us to this season. Now 26, Hathaway found himself one of the Heat’s top players, registering 19 points in 18 games before being called back up to the Flames, where he now has his second career goal – and the aforementioned four points in seven games, three of which have come in the past two contests. Recency bias is one thing, but we’ve also got to remember that without Hathaway’s work, the Flames very well may not have won either of those games.

In short: he has just stepped up into the potential to be something a little more.

This is where the disclaimers come out. First off, note the 27% shooting percentage he’s had for the Heat this season: a far cry over the 9-10% he had the two seasons before, and in all likelihood, entirely unsustainable. Lance Bouma and Joe Colborne say hi.

Furthermore, the NHL is a different beast. Remember, Mark Jankowski had eight points in six games this season before he was recalled (seemingly for good), and in the NHL, he has eight points in 22 games so far this season. At the moment we’re talking, at best, third liners.

And also remember that this is Hathaway’s fourth full year as a professional, and only Jankowski’s second. The age gap is relevant, because if you’re 26 and putting up good numbers in what is a development league, well… good. You should be doing that. Marek Hrivik is Hathaway’s age and has 23 points in 20 games for the Heat so far this season.

That’s why Andrew Mangiapane is so exciting: he’s leading the team in scoring as a 21-year-old. It’s why Rasmus Andersson and Oliver Kylington are more intriguing than Tyler Wotherspoon; they’re three-four years younger than him. Age matters when you’re talking minor league stats.

Hathaway the NHLer

All of that being said, you can’t exactly ignore Hathaway’s increased role.

When Matthew Tkachuk gets suspended, the choice is to move Troy Brouwer up to his line. With Jagr out of the lineup, Glen Gulutzan could have just as easily opted to have Brouwer play alongside Sam Bennett and Jankowski. But he didn’t – he chose Hathaway.

Against Montreal, Hathaway played 14:14 – the second most he’s played in his NHL career. Prior to that, he was hovering around 10-11 minutes of ice time. Hathaway got to follow that up with 11:53 against Vancouver: not an earth-shattering number, but still, a little more than he’s been allotted before.

Hathaway has accumulated a couple of minutes of penalty kill time, but that’s as far as he’s gone for special teams. Even with the recent uptick in ice time, he’s averaging 11:20 a game; only Matt Stajan, Curtis Lazar, Tanner Glass, and Freddie Hamilton have had less. The next lowest forwards are Brouwer (12:54, special teams time) and Jankowski (12:55, former AHL linemate, current NHL linemate), and they’re still getting ample more time than Hathaway is.

In other words, if Hathaway wants to completely cement his position on the third line, he’s going to have to keep doing everything he’s doing, and then some. Nobody is going to question his effort or work ethic, but that isn’t always enough. And two good games in a row does not a third line NHLer make.

But let’s give a little more credit where it’s due. Hathaway sat at the bottom of the Flames’ corsi charts, his one-game 39.13% 5v5 CF against the Oilers keeping him under. In this six games since his recall, he’s shot all the way up to 54.66%, including three above-65% efforts against Philadelphia, Montreal, and Vancouver.

In other words: even if Hathaway’s recent offensive outburst fades away, there may be some hope he can still fulfill a responsible role, helping keep the puck in the offensive zone rather than anywhere else. It’s evident his game has grown over the years, even if you ignore his AHL point totals.

Hathaway hasn’t quite received this amount of trust at the NHL level before. He’s definitely getting the best opportunity of his career to date – and results are starting to show.

Whether Hathaway can keep this up or not, all in all, it’s still a pretty good find in an undrafted player.

  • Greg

    I don’t expect Hathaway to keep up his current production, but he’s won me over as a text book case of “functional toughness”. He’s probably only a ~15-20 point player over the long term, but he’s useful, cheap, and effective in a bottom 6 role. Let’s keep him in there and use it as an opportunity to push out someone who isn’t useful, cheap, or effective.

  • EhPierre

    I personally think Hathaway should be the RW on the third line even if Jagr comes back. Full disclaimer: I’m a big Hathaway fan.

    Hathaway just brings a much needed energy that is nonexistent at that times on the Flames team. Say what you want about talent but hard work always trumps talent and Hathaway brings his best every single game. A lot of the goals scored by Bennett and Tkachuk (last game) wouldn’t have happened without Hathaway’s tenacity. Hathaway helps out in the D zone too, something that Jagr does not. That all being said, I full expect Jagr to come back and play on the 3rd line and Hathaway being sent to the AHL because that’s just how the Flames management does things. Next year will be a really great year with Mangiapane and Hathaway along with Andersson joining the team full time.

  • BringtheFire 2.0

    “Lance Bouma and Joe Colborne say hi.”

    This really put things into perspective for me. See, I love Hathaway the guy, the energy he brings and the work ethic. I want to keep him. But that desire has to be tempered with numbers, so, after reading, I land on; “Cautious optimism” .

  • BendingCorners

    I think Hathaway stays even after Jagr returns. He will probably be 4th line RW and Brouwer will be LW, but Hathaway can play up when necessary and could reclaim the 3RW spot from Jagr at some point. He could evolve into the kind of tough super-pest that drives other teams’ stars crazy an establish a role for himself that way too.

  • The Doctor

    Just on the eyeball test alone, Hathaway looks better this year. I can see why his Stockton numbers were better. He just seems to be making more intelligent, effective plays in the offensive zone rather then just cruising around and looking for guys to hit. Before he looked more or less like a banger. Now he looks like a banger with some offensive hockey IQ.

      • cjc

        That is partly true, because Mangiapane has set up so many of his goals. Mangiapane’s assist totals probably wouldn’t be as high without Hathaway shooting 27%. Mangiapane himself is shooting 19%, and Hathaway has assisted on a few of his goals.

        • HOCKEY83

          Hathaway wouldn’t have scored so many goals if not for Mangi’s play making abilities. Mangi is far and away a much more skilled player than Hathaway. Hathaway may be in some games right now but over the long haul Mangi will be a player on this team and Hathaway will be long gone

  • cjc

    I don’t want to throw cold water on Hathaway, but RARE is the player that emerges from the AHL at 26 and becomes a regular player in the NHL, let alone a third liner. It’s 4 or 5 good games, and although those possession numbers look good, almost everyone has looked good over that period and Hathaway’s line benefits from the most vanilla zone starts of all. Jagr is slowing down, but because the third line is starting so many shifts in the offensive zone, it matters less.

    • everton fc

      I don’t know if Hathaway will ever be an everyday 3rd liner. He should be on our roster, though. Not in Stockton. And he should continue to get minutes until he proves otherwise. At the moment, Hathaway is a nice challenge to have. He’s added more to that 3rd line than Jagr – goals are coming from Bennett, speed is there…

    • McRib

      “I don’t want to throw cold water on Hathaway, but RARE is the player that emerges from the AHL at 26 and becomes a regular player in the NHL”

      Hathway right now kind of reminds me of Andrew Hammonds run with Ottawa a year or two ago. All of his career stats said he would never be an NHLer, he got hot in the AHL right when Ottawa needed a callup, BUT eventually he fell back down to earth.

      I’d rather Morgan Klimchuk or Andrea Mangiapane on this team, but like I have said I prefer Hathaway over Brouwer, Lazar, etc.

    • HOCKEY83

      Ya. Like I said up top. He may be in a few games right now and possibly to the end of the season but come next season there are far better players emerging that will take his spot. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they didn’t even resign him next season with the talent coming up.

  • McRib

    “His junior year was his best in the NCAA, 21 points in 33 games being his career high.”

    It kind of blows my mind that Hathaway has been given the opportunity that he has with the big club, when a former first rounder who lite it up in the WHL on bad teams like Morgan Klimchuk hasn’t been given any opportunity at all to speak of with the NHL club.

    That said Hathaway is an improvement over Troy Brouwer, Curtis Lazar, etc, but it really goes to show how becoming a bottom six NHLer really just comes down to getting an opportunity or not. Klimchuk wasn’t drafted by Treliving so they aren’t invested, so Treliving always goes with “his guy” in Hathaway instead when a callup is needed.

      • McRib

        Mangiapane is among the league leaders in points, by all accounts he has been Stockton’s most consistent player, but because he doesn’t “forecheck hard” his effort level doesn’t stand out like Hathway. That’s the problem I have with “effort”, it’s non-tangible and grinders riding hot streaks are always going to get the benefit of the doubt over a skilled guy like Mangiapane who produces every freaking night regardless of a sky high shooting percentage.

        • Ari Yanover

          Chatting with a friend of mine in Stockton – not SF, but a different set of eyes who sees Mangiapane more than most of us – and when I said I thought he should be up, she said she thinks he’s too young and still makes stupid plays sometimes. I’m good to take her word on that, especially because it’s not like it’s going to hurt Mangiapane to spend a little longer in the AHL.

          • Stockton's Finest

            If he was going there as an emergency call up for a few games, yes he is ready. If you expect him to play on the 4th line, then he is better in Stockton.

        • HOCKEY83

          Mangiapane is too green to be a Flame yet. Let him have a season in the AHL. There is no rush. Rush him and everyone will be wondering why it’s not working out just like what’s happening to Bennett.

  • SeanCharles

    I think Hathaway has made the team and won’t see anymore AHL time. He is more effective than F. Hamilton, Stajan, Brouwer and even Lazar although I’ve liked Lazar’s game as of late, it’s been his play that has allowed Brouwer to pot 2 goals.

    Next season should be interesting as Dube, Klimchuk, Mangiapane and possibly Poirier and Foo could all push for jobs.

  • Flames fan since 83

    One reason Hathaway is with the big club before others (Klimchuck, Mangiapane) is because Hathaway is a right handed shot.
    Since Jagr is not playing on Tuesday night, and Hathaway is 3rd line and Brouwer is 4th line. Wouldn’t it make sense to try Hathaway on the first PP before Brouwer. That is if GG really needs to play a right shot on the PP.

  • Chucky

    It is all well and good to believe that Hathaway has made this team but reality is a little different. Elite talent (Jonny, Mony, Backs, Byng, Gio etc) can have a several mediocre games and keep their place and icetime. Guys that the coaching staff consider fringe players Ferland, Hathaway, Lazar, Jankowski and Kulak are positioned for the next period by what they did last period. Too many bad periods in a week and they are in the “A” or eating popcorn. It is not a bad thing to have these guys on a short leash just very confusing when Brouwer, Stajan, Versteeg and Hamonic get time without earning it by either measure.
    For now it looks like Hathaway has found a nice working space with Janko and Bennett so he should stay with them, any good coach knows that it is important to go with the hot hand without over committing to anyone. Unfortunately with the requirement being “good coaching” Hathaway should be looking for a ticket to Stockton.

      • Chucky

        Just ask Gulatzan when he demotes him to the fourth line. He has been one of the highest impact fringe players in the league for the last two years but he remains a fringe player when Brouwer can bump him from the PP and he gets demoted on a regular basis.
        If someone wants to argue that Gulatzan does not properly evaluate player ability and impact I would agree, but 6th forward TOI\ game certainly doesn’t qualify as elite.

  • Chucky

    Flames website has a vidio billed as”Monahan talks about the addition of Jankowski to the powerplay”. Is this a done deal or because Janko got one shift on Saturday night?
    It is hard to believe that this could represent the end of Brouwer on the PP. Maybe GG is replacing Ferland with Janko and keeping Brouwer in front of the net.

    • Brownblazer

      I believe when Janko got that shift Ferland returned to his spot in front of the net not Brouwer. I would love to see that as a permanent move – Janko looked dangerous

  • Puckhead

    Hathaway brings a much needed element to the team – in your face toughness. I am tired of watching soft hockey. If the Flames are serious about being competitive in the playoffs they need some edgy players sprinkled throughout the lineup.

  • oilcanboyd

    Conclusion by Flames from 80 Feet writer:
    “But has he earned a spot in the top 12? Hard to argue that given what the team has gotten, or more so not gotten from the carousel of other players used in that role.

    Even if that ends up being where Hathaway lands and that’s still probably his career path at this point, he is showing right now that he can be a guy that in a pinch, can bump up in the line-up and play more important minutes and take on a bigger role.

    That versatility will only further help him in his NHL career.”

    Exactly!

  • Dan the flames fan

    I think we also should look at the impact Jankoski’s had on the entire 3rd line. Hathaway played extremely well with Jankowski in Stockton, and seems to be continuing the relationship in Calgary. The third line started to score when Jankowski entered the line. Bennett was moved to the wing (finally), and with Jankoski’s strong grounded play, has shown to be comfortable and confident to produce. As well as Hathaway and Bennett are doing, I really believe that it’s the way Jankowski is leading the line that has had the most impact.

  • fumanchu1968

    Maybe I’m high but I think we should keep Hathaway on the 3rd line with Janko and Benny and move Jags up to play right wing with Tkachuk and #11. Frolik on the 4th line will make that line better and provide scoring from the bottom. Monahan’s line of course doesn’t change 😉

    • Lucky 13

      I’m too lazy to look it up, however I think we’re playing.500 with him up recently.

      Last year I believe him and Stone we around for our 10 game winning streak, which appears to make him look like our lucky charm.

  • freethe flames

    With Jagr out again tonight it gives Hathaway another chance to prove himself. If this lie continues to grow from it’s past performances it might be difficult to move him. Also it sounds like Janko will be given a greater opportunity to play on the PP. Here’s hoping it works as well as I think it could.

  • Primo

    Hathaway is here to stay. Jagr’s lack of speed in today’s game is a concern for the Flames I think you will see this so called nagging injury turn into a retirement announcement soon…..

  • Stockton's Finest

    Hmmm…Kayle Doetzel (D) recalled by Stockton from Kansas City. They have 8 defensemen on the roster already. So who is either being called up or demoted?

  • Thatz Nuckin Futz

    NHL math: the smaller the contract, the shorter the leash. Talent level is almost secondary. I love Hath’s style of play but the pressure is on him right now. As mentioned by other posters, if he has one or two blah periods, General Gel and his minions will be looking to move him down. What are the chances of a 45 yr old player who missed training camp & battling injuries can continue his NHL career? The writing is on the wall IMHO. It was worth a chance, a feel good moment for all concerned. But reality has a way of catching up to you.