Garnet Hathaway has been one of the Flames’ development success stories. An undrafted college free agent, Hathaway worked his way up through the AHL to becoming an every day NHLer. No one expected anything spectacular from him, but he has finally established himself as a mainstay in the roster. With free agency pending, does he have a case to remain a Flames player?
2018-19 season summary
Hathaway spent the entire season in Calgary, only missing six games due to healthy scratches.
|Games Played||Goals||Assists||Points||TOI/GP||5v5 CF%||5v5 CFrel%||OZS%||PDO|
Hathaway was a fourth liner, playing with Derek Ryan and Andrew Mangiapane most often. That line started clicking together around February, and quietly became one of the Flames’ most effective lines during the final stretch of the season. Hathaway wasn’t scoring as often as his linemates were, but made himself known thanks to the physical element he brought to the table. He also saw heavy time on the Flames’ first PKing unit, leading the team in fenwick against/60 (61.12) and shots against/60 (39.19).
Penalty killing and defence are definitely his strong suits, as Hathaway was one of the worst forwards at shot generation at 5v5. He consistently ranks second to last on the roster for CF%, CF/60 (51.57), and pretty much every other shooting metric, with only Dillon Dube finishing with worse numbers. Defensively, he’s middle of the pack. Hathaway’s CA/60 was ninth on the roster at 52.67, and generally hovered somewhere around the middle in most shot suppression metrics.
The major story of Hathaway’s 2018-19 is his sudden emergence as a goalscorer, setting highs in goals . His shooting percentage jumped from 4%, which he’s averaged over the past two season, to 13%. His PDO was highest on the team, indicating that puck luck was the main driver for his offensive outburst. Given his poor possession numbers, it’s unlikely Hathaway keeps this up next season.
This may be a familiar story. Every once in a while, players punch above their weight for a season and then return to absolutely normal. If there’s one candidate on the Flames who fits that description this season, it’s Hathaway.
Compared to last season
For the first time in his career, Hathaway didn’t spend a single second in the AHL. He received a bit of a demotion though, dropping from the third line to the fourth line, thanks to the increased depth on the roster.
Part of that line switch also meant a shift in role, moving from offensive to defensive, and could have something to do with his poor numbers. Last season, Hathaway came out in the black, sitting around the middle in most shot metrics. A lot of that was thanks to heavy sheltering, as he started in the offensive zone 61.44% of the time. Bill Peters chose to place James Neal/Austin Czarnik in that 3RW spot and move Hathaway down with Ryan, primarily taking defensive shifts.
His numbers cratered. With a 12% reduction in OZS%, he saw his CF/60 drop from 63.36 in 2017-18 to 51.17 in 2017-19. His CA/60 remained about the same, actually moving in a positive direction from 55 CA/60 to 52.67. Without sheltering, Hathaway isn’t as much of an offensive threat. Ironically, his production numbers jumped a bit, but it’s more than likely that it isn’t sustainable given his actual shot generation numbers.
What about next season?
Hathaway will be a UFA next season, the first time he’s out of the Flames’ control during his pro career.
It’s tough to say whether he gets re-signed or not. The Flames face a bit of a cap crunch with the impending Matthew Tkachuk, Sam Bennett, and David Rittich extensions, so every dollar counts. On the other hand, he really doesn’t have a case to receive a raise far beyond his current $850K salary. I can’t imagine there’s much of a market for him to drive up the price, but you never know.
Evolving Wild’s contract projection model has his next contract at three years with a ~ $1.35M AAV. That could be a little too much for a fourth liner, and especially so considering the handful of young players still on ELCs who could take up that spot. Given the likelihood that his offensive numbers this year were inflated by puck luck, it’s a Lance Bouma-esque risk not worth taking.