At the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, the Arizona Coyotes selected a center, Peterborough, ON native Barrett Hayton. The Coyotes have been desperately searching for a true top-line center for most of their existence, and even though Dylan Strome was still with the organization, you could tell the team seemed ready to move on from him.
Games Played: 60
TOI/Games Played: 16:07
PP TOI: 92:18
PK TOI: 87:47
Not long after drafting Hayton, it became apparent that he was too good for the OHL but not ready to make the jump to full-time NHL duty. Unfortunately, due to the CHL-NHL agreement, he could not be reassigned to the AHL, leaving him in limbo.
Thankfully, he is old enough now to freely go between the AHL and the NHL. And while he would start the season with the Tucson Roadrunners, it wasn’t long before an injury-riddled Coyotes team called him up.
After recording an assist in his first NHL game of the season against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Hayton was quiet for a few games. He wasn’t playing poorly, but he wasn’t really in a space to make a significant offensive impact. But Hayton was drafted for his defensive capabilities, which seemed apparent in the first few games.
But it wouldn’t be long before Hayton fell to injury, like many other players on the Coyotes’ roster last season. On January 6th, he sustained a hand injury and would miss the next month of games, not returning until February 19th.
The break did seem to serve Hayton well, and he had a good February and March. He wasn’t a point-a-game player but was showing up on the scoresheet while staying defensively solid.
His biggest game during that time was probably his three-assist night against the Detroit Red Wings on March 8th, one of two three-point nights for the young center this season.
Like the Coyotes as a whole, Hayton decided to finish his season with a bang. He had a goal and four assists in his final three games, hopefully, a sign of a bright future for the young forward.
Barrett Hayton is a restricted free agent, and it will be interesting to see what kind of contract he gets. His first season as a full-time NHL player went fine, but clearly, there is a lot more that he can do.
Ideally, the team would like more offense from Hayton, but that will require him to play with more skilled linemates. However, with most of a full NHL season under his belt, Hayton could get some time on the top line with Clayton Keller and Nick Schmaltz next season, which could be a boon for all three.