2021-22 Team: Barrie Colts (OHL)
Date of Birth: April 4, 2004
Place of Birth: Strathroy, Ontario
Ht: 5-foot-10 Wt: 172 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting Midterm Rankings: 47th (Among NA Skaters)
- Dobber Prospects’ Midseason Rankings: 36th
- Craig Button’s March Rankings: 38th
- Peter Baracchini’s March Rankings: 48th
- Andrew Forbes’ March Rankings: 49th
- Matthew Zator’s April Rankings: 51st
- FC Hockey: 58th
- Bob McKenzie’s Midterm Rankings: 60th
- Draft Prospects Hockey Winter Rankings: 96th
It doesn’t take much to notice that Hunter Haight is an incredibly skilled player. Just watch him carry the puck up the ice, and it’s easy to see his skating is smooth and confident, as though he knows no one will be able to catch him if he doesn’t want them to. That’s not an overstatement, either. With sublime edgework, a quick, strong stride, and great acceleration, there are few players in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) right now — apart from maybe Antonio Stranges –who can skate better than him. His stick handling, too, is excellent, and he can keep the puck on his stick at speed. Despite his 5-foot-10 frame, it’s almost impossible to knock him off the puck.
Blowing by opponents with speed and puck handling is nothing new for the Strathroy, Ontario native. In 2018-19, he put up nearly a goal-per-game in AAA with the Elgin Middlesex Chiefs, and finished second in league scoring with 58 points in just 33 games. He followed that up with 26 points in 16 playoff games. Those efforts made him one of the top prospects heading into the 2020 OHL Priority Draft, and the Barrie Colts grabbed the speedy sniper with the ninth overall pick. Yet what would be his rookie season ended up being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and he was forced to sit out the entire season, waiting for his chance to shine.
Related: 2022 NHL Draft Guide
When that finally came, however, Haight’s performance was somewhat disappointing. After 25 games, he had just 14 points, scoring at a pace of just over half a point a game. By the end of the season, his scoring pace had increased to just 0.65 points per game, and he finished with just 41 points in 63 contests. While he did have a stretch where he put up 12 points in nine games in mid-February, he just wasn’t consistent enough during the season. By no means a bad season by the rookie, it was a far cry from what was expected from Haight after being projected as a dark horse first-round draft pick.
Thankfully, there’s plenty of evidence pointing to a breakout sophomore season for Haight. He was much more effective in the playoffs, scoring five points in six games before the Colts were eliminated by the Mississauga Steelheads, implying he just needed the experience to get fully comfortable in the league. Better yet, while his 22 goals were fairly mediocre compared to other top prospects, he only took 135 shots, resulting in roughly a goal every six shots. That’s a better scoring rate than Luke Evangelista, James Hardie, Ty Tullio, Sasha Pastujov, and projected first overall selection Shane Wright, who scored roughly every eight shots.
Haight also is a tenacious player, willing to get back onto the backcheck and help out the defence, which he is surprisingly effective at thanks to a heightened awareness of everything happening on the ice. He’s also more than willing to dig into the corners to fight for pucks despite his size disadvantage.
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Hunter Haight – NHL Draft Projection
Haight received a B grade in the NHL Central Scouting’s Players to Watch list back in November, and projected him as a second-or-third-round pick, but hopes were high that he’d emerge as a dark horse for the first round. Unfortunately, that just didn’t happen this season, and he remains an early day two selection.
“Haight is a two-way forward with good skating ability and some intriguing offensive instincts. He can carry the puck in transition but also understands how to utilize his teammates to create lanes or space off the rush. When presented with time and space in the offensive zone, particularly on the powerplay, Haight shows good vision and can complete crisp passes through tight windows in coverage. He is an active handler who does well to change angles to create better passing options as well. Haight isn’t a pure sniper but he has a good release that should only improve as he adds strength to his slight frame in the coming years.” Nick Richard, Dobber Prospects
“Haight is an effective and smart two-way pivot who could contribute in all three zones and in all situations. He was really well-rounded and proved to be a Swiss Army knife of a player taking key defensive draws, while also playing a role on the power play unit. I was impressed with Haight’s smarts on the puck and his ability to create plays when he had the time and space to make a pass. He proved to be capable of making passes through tight windows and also smart in his positioning to open those windows up.” Dylan Galloway, FCHockey
“Excellent, fluid skater with a smooth stride and top gear … good combination of skill and smarts … two-way player that can be counted on in all situations … strong puck carrier that can attack with speed and can be slippery to handle … very good puck distributor and playmaking ability … strong work ethic and motor … good shot and accuracy … he is a player that has pro upside written all over him.” NHL Central Scouting
“Haight has been one of the poster boys of how the cancelled OHL season last year affected the development of players. On the back of a strong performance at Canada’s U18 camp this summer (held in place of Hlinka/Gretzky Cup participation), the expectation was that Haight would be one of the top OHL players available this year. However, he has struggled with consistency in his rookie OHL year. Some of that can be attributed to injury. Some can be attributed to a lack of strength and confidence. Either way, he has not been as consistently effective or as noticeable as you would like. A talented skater and extremely skilled and creative player, Haight still possesses high-end potential. However, he is starting to look like more of a mid-round swing, rather than a potential first-round pick.” – McKeen’s Hockey
- Puck skills
- Mobility and skating
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
Haight is a hard-working two-way forward with plenty of offensive skill. He’s not flashy like Stranges or Trevor Zegras, but he’s effective, making him invaluable to teams looking for solid all-around players that can boost their secondary scoring. That means he’s likely destined for a second-or-third-line role at the highest level, potentially in more of a grinding capacity. However, there’s a chance that he could break out, just like Conor Garland did in his sophomore campaign in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) where he put up 129 points, over double his rookie totals. Seven years later, the 5-foot-10 winger is now a top-six winger with the Vancouver Canucks.
Risk – 4/5, Reward – 3/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 8/10, Defence – 7/10
Haight participated in the 2022 CHL/NHL Kubota Top Prospects Game, joining fellow OHL stars Wright, Danny Zhilkin, David Goyette, and Matthew Poitras on Team Red. In the game, he was held off the score sheet but won four of his nine total faceoffs. He also participated in Canada’s U18 Summer Camp last season, which was held in the place of the cancelled U18 World Championship.
Hunter Haight Statistics
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An elementary teacher by day and an avid hockey fan, Dayton joined The Hockey Writers in 2019 and currently covers the Ottawa Senators, World Juniors, and NHL Entry Draft.