In this week’s edition of the Arizona Coyotes 2021-22 offseason player reviews, we’ll take a look at forward Barrett Hayton. After being selected fifth overall in the 2018 NHL Draft, the Coyotes forward would spend the next two seasons struggling to produce and live up to the expectations the team hoped for. As a result, he would spend his first two seasons bouncing back and forth from the American Hockey League (AHL) to the NHL.
Entering this past season, Hayton had a target on his back to show signs of improvement if he wanted to avoid the bust label and remain with the Coyotes all year, and boy did he show some positive signs. With a chance at an increase in playing time and the opportunity to take on a bigger role, the Canadian forward found himself blossoming into the player the Coyotes hoped for in head coach André Tourigny’s system.
Hayton’s Season in Review
Hayton’s 2021-22 season started off in the AHL, playing four games with the Tucson Roadrunners before getting the call up to the Coyotes, where he’d spend the rest of the season, registering 24 points on 10 goals and 14 assists in 60 games. As the season waged on and injuries started to pile up for the Coyotes, his role only increased, and his production grew. As he and the team adjusted to Tourigny’s new system, a spark lit underneath him, a spark that saw him register six points over the team’s final 10 games while totaling career highs in time on ice during that span.
In addition to an increase in his ice time and overall game, Hayton developed into a well-rounded two-way player under the team’s new coaching system. He blocked 33 shots, delivered 84 hits, and took the puck off the opponent’s stick 18 times. He averaged a career-high 16 minutes of ice time and finished the season with an impressive 12.2 shooting percentage. He finished the season with signs of remarkable growth.
What Hayton Can Improve On, Build Off Of
While his strong finish to the season showed fans a glimpse of that potential that Hayton possesses, the Coyotes need to see much more from him entering next season. If last year’s early struggles suggest anything, it’s that he does indeed have a ways to go still if he wants to live up to the hype. For example, Hayton’s biggest weakness was his struggles with consistency, at times flying under the radar and going on cold streaks, leading to backing back and forth from the Coyotes to the minors. That’s ultimately what’s hurt his game the most and is the main reason for his NHL troubles so far in his career.
Despite consistency struggles, Hayton did show growth and improvement in his game. He had the best statistical season of his short career. It was his secondary stats, though, that were most impressive, with highs in blocked shots, hits, and an impressive 48.1 faceoff percentage. He still has a lot of room to grow, but this past season showed promise that Hayton still has a chance to turn into that top-line player for the Coyotes. He quickly turned into a player to keep an eye on heading into the upcoming season.
Hayton’s Next Move
Going forward, Hayton’s role on the team will only increase as long as his production increases, and he isn’t shy either about what he wants to accomplish. “My development over the past couple years has progressed, progressed, progressed, and personally, I want to reach my highest potential and get everything I can out of my game.”
The team knows what Hayton possesses too, and is prepared to do whatever possible to surround him and their other core pieces with the best possibilities for continued growth and development.
Depending on how this season plays out, the Coyotes may see Hayton top his breakout from the past season. If he continues to build off his success from last year, the Coyotes have themselves a bonafide center to complement Logan Cooley, the team’s third overall pick from this year’s draft, for years to come.
What do you think of Hayton? Let us know in the comments section below. Next week is defenseman Jakob Chychrun.
Mr. Evans is originally from Greenville, SC where he currently resides. Mr. Evans has been involved in hockey for the past 18 years now, following the Arizona Coyotes and St. Louis Blues. During his free time, Mr. Evans enjoys spending time with his family and girlfriend as well as being up in the mountains or taking pictures. Prior to joining The Hockey Writers, Mr. Evans previously worked for The Puck Authority, covering the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL and FanSided’s Bleedin’ Blue, covering the St. Louis Blues. You can find Mr. Evans on Twitter at @HaynesPEvans.