Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

FlamesNation player evaluations: Garnet Hathaway

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.

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Games Played Goals Assists Points TOI/GP 5v5 CF% 5v5 CFrel% OZS% PDO
76 11 8 19 10:31 49.47% -4.86 49.09% 1.037

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.

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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.

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2018-19 player evaluations

#4 Rasmus Andersson | #5 Mark Giordano | #7 TJ Brodie | #8 Juuso Valimaki | #10 Derek Ryan | #11 Mikael Backlund | #13 Johnny Gaudreau | #18 James Neal | #19 Matthew Tkachuk

  • freethe flames

    I would resign him and would be happy with the 3 year deal proposed in the article. If he wants more than that he probably needs to look elsewhere. There has been a reluctance to sign depth players for longer term but as the cap continues to go up their salary hit% remains basically the same. Here is a guy that the coach knows and trusts to do a certain job; 4th line, PKer and a bit of a physical player. I would rather that than guys who the coach does not know and trust vs a floater that might have a higher upside.

  • Squishin

    For some reason, the writers here don’t seem to value Hathaway very much. Oh right, because they think possession metrics are worth something.
    I like this guy. He works his tail off, he’s fast, he’s physical, he was one of the best penalty killers on the team, and he has solid chemistry with Ryan and Mangy.
    I could go on, but what’s not to like? What more can you ask of a 4th-liner?

    • everton fc

      I’ve always pushed Hathaway, here. Since he played his first game, as a Flame. Sklyardog would be the other. He’s “made space” for many other players he’s been lined up with, outside the 4th line.

  • Jimmyhaggis

    Has played the best hockey under Peters. Knows his role, physical, checker and has good speed. If the Flames can sign him for 2 years at just under 1 million per, do it.

  • Budgie

    Hathaway is steady, he didn’t dissapear in the playoffs. His points would improve if he was bumped up in the lineup-he could stand in front of the net and create havoc-he is valuable on a team with a need for physical players

  • Heeeeere’s Johnny

    I would sign this guy too if it makes sense. His greatest skill seems to be showing up to work. Price tag is the issue. I’d give this guy 3 years but I’d try to keep it to $1mm or lower.

  • Luter 1

    If you don’t sign him you will be chasing a player you don’t know and will be thrilled to get double digit goals out of a 4th liner. Tiberi doesn’t know what he’s talking about as this guy brings intangibles of physicality, sticks up for teammates, hardworking and scraps once in a while. Unlike Neal, Frolik, Jankowski to name a few forwards.

    • Speed Kills

      That is what can happen when you spend your tine evaluating post-game score sheets rather than investing the time in watching the games, 🙂 To me Corsi/Metrics can roughly measure 30%ish of in game play validity to amount to the actual story of the game. What corsi/metrics can not account for is the Effort, Hard work, Puck-Luck/Bounces/Deflections etc, Hockey IQ, Natural skill, speed, predicting play, positioning, player chemistry, Ice surface and other intangibles that stats just don’t reflect.
      Anyways I do hope the Flames and Hath can work out a decent contract to keep him here. The hard working guy deserves a bit of a pay raise and with that, we all hope he continues to improve and not step back.

    • deantheraven

      Indeed, the stats-leaning writers tend toward analytics, to the point where only the first two syllables of that word matter.
      Hath is a team first guy, a heart-and-soul guy, a “leave it all on the ice” guy who works his tail off every shift. He adds an edge, gets under opponents’ skin and he sticks up for his teammates when opposing players take liberties.
      These things do not show up on the stats line, especially “advanced analytics”.
      Yes, the Flames need another top 6 scoring winger, but they also need guys like Hath if they want to play (NHL) ice hockey beyond April.
      I’m so glad he put up some points this year, so that his value rises in the eyes of those who care more about that kind of thing. What’s more is the fact that he scored more points while given a more defensive role. This can not be explained by “fancy stats”, therefore he is expendable.
      My guess is he’ll sign for a mil for 2-3 years. Hopefully it’s in Calgary.

  • CowboyBob

    Felt most of the season that they could upgrade on Hathaway, but than he was one of only three forwards that showed up for playoffs. Keep him if you can and if the cost is reasonable.