Over the next few weeks heading into the 2018 NHL Draft, we will be taking a look at some of the players that the Philadelphia Flyers could potentially draft. The Flyers have two first-round picks in this year’s draft, with the 14th and 19th picks overall.
Ron Hextall and his scouting department are likely familiar with the player below. He is a teammate of 2017 first-round pick Morgan Frost, who the Flyers drafted with St. Louis’ first-round pick last season.
Hayton isn’t as flashy as Frost, but he gets the job done and is described as the “all-in” player that’s necessary for every successful team. Let’s take a deeper look.
Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
Born: June 9, 2000
Peterborough, Ontario, Canada
Weight: 185 lbs
Junior hockey can be tough for younger players, especially when they are on a stacked team, but Hayton played his way into the second-line center role for the Greyhounds. He even spent some time as the top-line left wing. He finished the 2017-18 regular season with 60 points (21 goals, 39 assists) in 63 games and notched 21 points (8 goals, 13 assists) in 24 playoff games.
Hayton turned heads after a solid showing (six points in five games) for Canada at the Ivan Hlinka tournament. He then asserted himself among the likes his teammates Frost, Boris Katchouk and Taylor Raddysh, but while his game may not always end up on the highlight reel, don’t mistake that for an absence of skill. Hayton can play.
When I look at Hayton, he strikes me as someone who is going to go through you instead of around you. Well, his frame may say that, but his feet tell a different story. Scouts have lauded Hayton’s skating, using phrases such as “top end speed,” “very good edgework,’ and “tough to knock off the puck.”
Hayton moves well both with and without the puck on his stick. He has long and powerful strides. He won’t leave defenders looking at the back of his jersey, but he’s shifty enough to create separation and find open ice. His skating has supposedly improved since his first season and it should get better as he adds more muscle.
Hayton is very much a north-south kind of player. He’s more likely to protect the puck and move it along in the cycle than deking a defender out of his skates. Hayton is a keen player who makes the quick, smart play. He’s also solid on the forecheck. He won’t often lay a big hit, but he’ll pester the opposition until his team regains the puck.
Once the puck is on his stick, Hayton is adept in keeping it in multiple ways. While his hands are great, along with his vision, he’s more likely to protect the puck with his body and keep the cycle going. When he finds an open teammate, he’ll dish the puck and head straight to the net where he knows how to finish with a variety of tip-ins, one-timers and quick hands to slam home the rebounds.
Hayton is more than a net-front presence, though. One of the reasons he more than doubled his goal scoring (9 to 21) is his heavy wrist shot and his penchant to use it more often. His slap shot does need some work as it lacks power and his wind-up is long, but those are fixable issues with coaching and practice. Overall, Hayton is a multi-dimensional threat when it comes to the offensive side of the game. He’s a tough player to defend.
Speaking of defending, that is an aspect of Hayton’s game that is well refined. One scout called it “advanced for a 17-year old.” Hayton backchecks and exhibits good positioning as well as puck support. His defensive prowess earned him a spot on the team’s first penalty-killing unit where he battles hard on the boards and keeps himself between the puck carrier and the net. Hayton shows great stickwork in clogging up the passing lanes. He’s not afraid to block shots either.
Like his game, Hayton may not be the flashy pick, but he’s a darn good player nonetheless. He’ll probably develop into a good second-line pivot. He’ll likely return to the Greyhounds next season where his role will undoubtedly increase.
Hayton does have some work to do to get to the NHL. He could stand to work on his consistency along with his shot, but if all goes according to plan, Hayton could develop into a Patrice Bergeron-type of player. At least that’s how Craig Button sees him. Hayton will be the guy who will be the complete player who does anything necessary to win.
Hayton is projected to be one of the first centers taken in this year’s draft, and could fall to the Flyers. Some mock drafts have him being drafted just before the teens, while other have him falling a few more picks.
Disclaimer: All of these scouting reports come from aggregated content from throughout the Internet. Any opinion I give is merely a combination of all the information I have gleaned while researching these players.
(Photo by Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)