Coyotes’ Hayton Looking to Avoid Bust Label

On Tuesday night, Arizona Coyotes forward Barrett Hayton registered his first career multi-goal game of his NHL career. After spending the last two years of his career bouncing back and forth from the Coyotes to their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate Tucson Roadrunners, Hayton is prepared to take the next leap, and build off this performance.

Originally considered to be picked too high by many experts, the young Canadian forward is on a path to make a name for himself and prove that the Coyotes made the right choice by taking him fifth overall in the 2018 NHL Draft.

Hayton’s Juniors Dominance

Hayton’s journey started in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) with the Soo Greyhounds during the 2016-17 season. In his rookie season, the Peterborough, Ontario native recorded nine goals and 18 assists for 27 points in 63 games.

Despite a poor first year in the OHL, Hayton took his game to the next level in his second season, registering 60 points in 63 games. He followed that up with a 66 point season in 39 games during the 2018-19 season while serving as captain for the Greyhounds.

Barrett Hayton
Barrett Hayton with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. (Terry Wilson / OHL Images)

Hayton’s dominance during the 2017-18 season would garner the notice of then general manager John Chayka, and the Coyotes, prompting the team to select him with the fifth overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft. Originally projected to be a top 10 pick, many were weary of the Coyotes taking him so high, especially with guys such as Quinn Hughes, Filip Zadina, Adam Boqvist, and Evan Bouchard still on the board.

Rookie Season and World Juniors Dominance

Hayton surprisingly made the Coyotes’ opening night roster during his rookie season, but that was ultimately short-lived, as he was scratched for the team’s first two games before being sent back to the OHL. Upon being sent back, he put the league on notice, and earned a roster spot for the beginning of the 2019-20 NHL season.

Related: Coyotes’ Top 10 Prospects for 2021-22

It took Hayton only one period in his first career game to record his first career point, an assist. Two games later he recorded his first career NHL goal, a game winning goal, against Mackenzie Blackwood and the New Jersey Devils.

Hayton’s play and skill grabbed the notice of Team Canada, who selected him for the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championships. While serving as captain for Canada, the young forward registered six goals and six assists for 12 points in 7 games, and finished as one of the top points leaders in the tournament, all while helping lead Canada to a gold medal.

Canada's Barrett Hayton Switzerland goalie Akira Schmid
Canada’s Barrett Hayton jumps in front of Switzerland goalie Akira Schmid (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

Upon returning to the Coyotes after conclusion of the tournament, Hayton was sent down to Tucson for a five-game trial, and then returned for six more games before the season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He saw action just three more times that season, all in the postseason. At the conclusion of his rookie campaign, Hayton recorded 4 points in 20 NHL games along with five points in five AHL games. 

Europe Loan and NHL/AHL Woes

Entering his second season, many were eager to see Hayton come out swinging. Due to COVID-19, the NHL delayed the start, and length, of the 2020-21 season, resulting in the team loaning him to Ilves of Liiga prior to the start of training camp, where he recorded four points in eight games.

Barrett Hayton
Barrett Hayton, Arizona Coyotes, 2018 NHL Draft (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Upon returning to Arizona for the start of the season, Hayton struggled, adding three points in 14 games, which resulted in him spending parts of the season in Tucson, where he didn’t fare much better, registering 10 points in 26 games.

Hayton Hope for a Turnaround

Entering the current 2021-22 season, Hayton was among the final roster cuts during training camp, with the team opting to send him to Tucson to start the year for more conditioning.

His time in the Old Pueblo didn’t last long, as he played four games before the Coyotes called him up due to a growing abundance of player injuries. All of this led up to last Tuesday night when Hayton recorded his first multi-goal game of his young NHL career, undoubtedly the spark he needed and his best game of his career so far.

The Coyotes and their fans certainly hope last Tuesday’s showing was the spark he needed to get going. Having only registered 10 points in 44 career NHL games so far, Hayton needs to keep the production up and prove he was the right choice at number five overall. This season, nevertheless, is a big one for the kid, and if he can keep production up and take a bigger role, maybe he can turn into the player Coyotes fans have hoped for after all.

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