When the Arizona Coyotes drafted centre Barrett Hayton as the fifth overall pick in 2018, heads turned. He was rumoured to go maybe in the 12-15 range, but then general manager John Chayka pulled off one of his surprises. Thus far, it has not turned out to be a good decision. While Hayton is still only 19, he will turn 20 in June, his development has not been ideal.
Arizona Coyotes Barrett Hayton a 2018 Draft Disappointment Thus Far
When Chayka was asked about why he selected Hayton, listen to his response here. While it appeared initially that Chayka’s assessment of Hayton as a “200′ centre, a good athlete with good character”, was true, he has yet to show that ability on the ice. To be fair to the young rookie, he has only appeared in 34 NHL games so far. He has just three goals and four assists to show for his efforts. His points per game average is just 0.21.
While many factors are involved in determining which player to draft and when the choice of Hayton seems unjustified at this point.
When the 2018 NHL Draft is remembered, it must be noted that four other players were available that Chayka passed on. Let’s evaluate their performances so far and where they were drafted.
Filip Zadina #6
While many thought this would be the best pick for the offence starved Coyotes, Chayka went with Hayton instead. Zadina, who thought he should have gone higher vowed to scorch the teams (including the Coyotes) who bypassed him. He has played in 60 games for the Detroit Red Wings with 12 goals and 18 assists.
Over the three seasons in Detroit, his 0.50 points per game far exceed Hayton’s. While Hayton may turn out to be a more all-around player, the Coyotes lacked scoring (and still do) and Zadina appeared to excel in that category. Who knows what Chayka was thinking here.
Quinn Hughes #7
If you feel (like this writer) that Chayka messed up by not taking Zadina at #5, then he was really flawed when he passed on Hughes. While he’s not the biggest player at 5′-10″, 175 pounds, he has been nothing short of amazing in a Vancouver Canucks‘ uniform.
He has participated in 106 games with 10 goals and 71 assists. He has been averaging almost 22 minutes of ice time, so the coaching staff has complete confidence in his ability. His 0.76 points per game blows Hayton off the ice in comparison. Hughes is an outstanding possession player with a Corsi For of 52.1 and a relative Corsi of 6.1.
Even if Chayka wasn’t looking to draft a defenceman, Hughes would have been a much smarter choice. So much for Chayka’s scouting staff at the time. They blew this one big time!
Adam Boqvist #8
Another defenceman with some good numbers didn’t attract the Coyotes again. Boqvist, the former OHL London Knight is a right-shooting blueliner who really could have filled the bill for the Coyotes’ future. When you look at Jason Demers and how the team is seemingly moving on from him, Boqvist could have stepped right in. He has played 61 NHL games with six goals and 20 assists. He also has 69 blocks and 49 hits to his credit. His 0.43 points per game also are superior to Hayton’s stats. The Chicago Blackhawks didn’t pass on him.
Evan Bouchard #10
I know, another defenceman. In fact another right-shooting D-man. While his numbers aren’t significantly better than Hayton’s with a 0.26 points per game average, he has only played in 19 games for the Edmonton Oilers. What is impressive about Bouchard is his possession statistics. His 54.7 Corsi For with a 9.1 Relative Corsi shows he knows how to control the puck for his team. While choosing Bouchard over Hayton may not have been that advisable, his performance is also more encouraging than Hayton’s.
Reviewing the Barrett Hayton Resume
There were positive signs in selecting Barrett Hayton, but at the fifth overall pick? In the OHL, with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, Hayton had excellent numbers. During the 2017-18 campaign he collected 21 goals and 39 assists in 63 games. He followed that up the next season with 26 goals and 40 assists in just 39 games. Then with the Tucson Roadrunners during the 2019-20 season, he had one goal and four assists in five games.
His development and lack of production while with the Coyotes seems very reminiscent of Dylan Strome, who was the third overall selection in 2015. He was up and down in the AHL and NHL and after much patience for him to turn the corner, he was finally dealt to the Blackhawks. Where, coincidentally, he has done quite well.
So, will Hayton follow the same path? It seems like it with his one goal in 10 games or 0.10 goals per game pace in Tucson. He is ranked 17th on the team in scoring. Hayton just needs to pick up his game and the thing is, the Coyotes could really use him. They are floundering right now and have dropped five straight including two overtime contests. The San Jose Sharks are actually just four points behind them with three games in hand. It doesn’t look good for the playoffs in the desert.
If the Coyotes become sellers (and it seems more and more obvious they will) Hayton could be part of a trade deal to improve the team. Does he have potential? Of course. Is he showing that potential yet? Not really. The biggest question is do the Coyotes wait for him to develop?
So, just as the team has struggled with unwise decisions from the Chayka era, will selecting Barrett Hayton at #5 come back to haunt them?