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Edit: Drafted 74th by Chicago.
John Hayden is yet another big, physical, power forward prospect out of the United States National Team Development Program. The Americans just seem to be cranking out gritty physical forward after gritty physical forward from the Ann Arbor based Michigan program over the last couple of years. This year we’ve already looked at J.T. Compher, Connor Hurley, Hudson Fasching, and Mike McCarron who all spent time with the squad.
Hayden has proven to be a leader on the US NTDP squad though. His non-stop motor and high work ethic is infectious, as is his willingness to sacrifice for the team, and to lead by example on the ice. He’s the type of player where you can see that his teammates take their queues from him out there on the ice.
Hayden participated in the 4 nations Under 18 tournament for Team USA where he scored the Gold Medal Winning Goal. He was also part of the 2013 IIHF Under 18 World Championships team, where he won a silver medal. In 2012 Hayden played for Team USA at the 2012 World Under 17 challenge with Team Ontario, and brought home a gold medal in the process.
Hayden is committed to attend college, and play hockey for Yale next season. Should he decide to forego college and head the NCAA route, he was drafted by the Halifax Mooseheads in the QMJHL. Either way he’ll be stepping into a squad that won the championship of their league, but will likely be experiencing major losses before the start of next season.
Born Feb 14 1995 — Greenwich, CT
Height 6’3″ —- Weight 207 lbs — Shoots Right
Hayden is very much a power forward prospect. At 6’3″ tall and weighing 207 lbs, he has the perfect frame to play a robust and physical style of play. Sure, he will need to bulk up in the coming years but that is common amongst these 17 and 18 year old prospects. Hayden already is very strong on the puck and is a load to handle in the cycle game. He wins battles in corners, protects the puck extremely well, drives to the net if an opening presents it self, or makes a decent pass to an open teammate. Hayden knows that he needs to go to the dirty areas of the ice to score and you can often find him in front of the net. He plays a very straight line, power based game, so don’t expect to many slick moves. He’s a torpedo on the forecheck as his preferred method of zone entry is to chip it by his defenceman and skate in and hammer the opposing defenceman in the corner. Hayden also has the ability to stick up for himself and has done well in fights this year. His wrist shot is decent, and the release is good but not elite.
Hayden’s skating will need some work. His stride is short and choppy, and he just doesn’t dig into the ice enough, causing him to have poor quickness and acceleration. His top end speed is good, but it takes him far too long to get up to full speed in comparison to his peers. His agility and edgework are ok, but nothing special. His big advantage is his lower body strength and balance as he is very hard to knock down or knock off the puck.
Hayden is defensively responsible, and is not afraid to get his nose dirty in his own end. He continues his physical game and gets involved in containing the cycle and battling on the boards down low. He is a willing shot blocker as well, and maintains good coverage of the point when he is used at RW. His hockey IQ is very good and he anticipates and reads the play very well.
Hayden’s style is reminiscent of Dustin Brown. In terms of potential though, we see him as a third line power forward, with an outside chance to see his offence develop and become a top 6 player. In the pro game he is likely more suited to play wing than centre.
Check back tomorrow for another NHL draft feature.
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