The Arizona Coyotes have reportedly confirmed their roster for the opening day of the 2018/19 NHL season and first-round pick Barrett Hayton has made the cut.
Hayton was the Coyotes’ first-round draft pick this year (fifth overall), surprising many due to Czech winger Filip Zadina still being available.
The Canadian centre, who stands at 6-foot-1, 190lbs, was drafted after an impressive second year playing for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the OHL.
Hayton registered 60 points (21 goals, 39 assists) in 63 regular season games and added a further 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) in 24 playoff games.
He also picked up the Bobby Smith Trophy as the OHL Scholastic Player of the Year.
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Since arriving at training camp, Hayton hasn’t looked out of place among the team’s regular NHL players but does look to be benefitting from the number of injuries the Coyotes are struggling with at the moment.
Centres Alex Galchenyuk and Christian Dvorak are set to miss the team’s opening game of the season against the Dallas Stars, forcing Ric Trocchet into some tactical changes with his line-up.
Hayton could now find himself playing third or fourth line minutes at centre for the Coyotes, giving him the best opportunity of impressing the coach.
Hayton could find himself sent back down to juniors, however, with the team allowed to play him in nine regular season games before needing to make a decision on where he plays for the rest of the season.
If Hayton plays ten games for the Coyotes, he will forfeit one year of his entry-level contract.
If, however, he is returned to the Greyhounds before this point, he would be eligible for an entry-level slide – allowing the team to keep him on his entry-level deal for three years from next season.
Considering the surprise many felt when Hayton was drafted, it appears that the Canadian could turn out to be the kind of player the Coyotes envisaged on draft day – with Zadina, who was considered the third-best player in the 2018 draft, starting the season in the AHL.
What do you think Coyotes fans? Are you happy to see Hayton given a shot at the start of this season? Would you prefer he was sent back down to juniors? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!