Barret Hayton is the former 2016 ninth overall selection of the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. He is also projected to be a mid first round selection in the 2018 NHL entry draft to be held in Dallas this June. The six-foot-one-inch, 185-pound left-handed center is not known for any flashy high end skills, but what he does provide is consistency in both work ethic and effort that allows him to be a steady go-to player in any situation.
CSB: No. 9 (NA Skaters)| ISS: No.12 | HP: No.27 | FC: No.27 | McKeen’s: No. 13
Hayton is the safe choice in a draft as he can do a little of everything very well and won’t hurt his team defensively. His style of play is perfectly suited to the pro game as he is a complete player who takes pride in his ability to play a 200-foot game. He is a good skater with good, not great top speed, but it is his edge-work to maintain his speed in changes of direction that allows him to keep a tight defensive gap or to create some space offensively for himself.
While Hayton is seen as a project to develop top quality offensive skills at the NHL level, he does have enough offensive skill to compliment his very mature defensive game, being projected as a second line center. Hayton is also an excellent stick handler who has a deceptively heavy and accurate shot that he releases quickly in tight quarters.
His high hockey IQ is also put on display whenever he steps onto the ice. Once he is in the offensive zone, he displays excellent vision and solid playmaking ability. He can quickly identify his best option in the offensive zone then use his deft passing skills to feed an open teammate.
Hayton also use his excellent stick-handling and puck control skills to allow him to retain possession until he can find a shooting lane. He can get to high danger areas in the offensive zone. He seems to enjoy the physical play battling to gain possession.
The true strength of Hayton’s game is his ability to think it. His hockey sense gives him a calm confident style of play that is more mature than that of his peers. He is often compared to Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, but in my opinion, he more closely resembles players like Jordan Staal or Sean Couturier. They are both excellent two way players capable of shutting down an opponent.
“A jack of all trades type of player who excels in the prototypical 200-foot game.” — Sam Cosentino
Sam Cosentino of Sportsnet said Hayton is “A jack of all trades type of player who excels in the prototypical 200-foot game. (He) is making the most out of increased offensive opportunities.”
Hayton truly excels defensively. His mobility allows him to play an aggressive puck-pursuit style which has him moving up in the draft lists. In addition, he can use size to his advantage. He puts pressure on opposition forwards in his own zone with positioning and an active stick. His maturity allows him to pester them and win many board battles without taking a great number of penalties.
“Winning teams will always value players with Hayton’s skills.” — Craig Button
TSN’s Craig Button offered this analysis, saying, “Hayton can play and contribute in all situations. He reminds me of Boston Bruins star Patrice Bergeron in the sense of being complete, strong and able to produce whatever play is necessary to win.” Button added, “Like Bergeron, there’s not a lot of flash to his game, but winning teams will always value players with Hayton’s skills.”
— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) January 26, 2018
Hayton will be drafted by a team knowing that he will not be a top line center. But his impact on a game will be large because he can be trusted to play versus top opposition.
While Hayton is considered a safe pick, it is not because he is a potential bottom six defensive style forward. I believe that he has the skill to become a very good top six center in the NHL. He has the hockey IQ, the frame, the complete 200 foot game, the potential and the work ethic to bring it all together. He has the desire to compete at all times, which is a trait that can only make him more effective as his skills and comfort in the league improve.