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Hayton, Kirk highlight Coyotes’ impressive draft haul

 

Barrett Hayton of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

The Arizona Coyotes continued to stockpile high-end prospects at the 2018 NHL Draft on June 22-23 in Dallas.

All in all, the Coyotes added nine players to the pipeline, starting with first-round pick Barrett Hayton, a talented forward from the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds who put up 60 points in 63 games last season.

“I got a great feel from Arizona through the interview process, so I knew there was a chance,” said Hayton, who went fifth overall. “When I heard my name called, it was unbelievable. It’s something you can’t really put into words. Really the only thing I can say is it’s a dream come true.”

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Still, even after talks with the Coyotes brass, Hayton was never 100 percent sure he’d hear his name from Coyotes GM John Chayka on draft day.

“We talked a lot about their organization and the steps that they have in place, and I feel they have an amazing future ahead,” said Hayton, an 18-year-old from Peterborough, Ont., who was also the first Canadian taken at the draft. “You never really know with drafts, but I can’t put it to words how happy I am. The direction in which their organization is going, I can’t lie, it was the organization I wanted to go to the most. So it’s just amazing. I’m a big hockey fan myself, so just keeping up with the core group they have, it’s just a special group. I don’t know any of them personally, but obviously from watching a ton of hockey myself, I know a fair amount about the way they play.”

The trip to Dallas was also a family event for Hayton (pictured), who signed with the Coyotes last month.

“My entire family was there in Dallas,” Hayton said. “My mom and my dad and my sister were there, so it’s a special event for me, for sure, and I was just very excited to be able to celebrate with them with all they have done for me over the years.”

nhl_draft_2018Hayton, who popped 21 goals last season for the Greyhounds, said it’s a fair assessment to call him a playmaking center.

“Yeah, I feel I’m a playmaker and a shooter,” Hayton said. “I try to weigh my options. I feel that’s where my hockey IQ comes into play. I feel my ability to play a complete game, my versatility in all the different situations is a big part of the player I am, and I think teams value that.”

Last December when several veteran Sault Ste. Marie players went to represent their countries at the World Junior Championship, Hayton used that extra ice time to his advantage.

“That opportunity I had when those key guys were away at World Juniors was great,” said Hayton. “That’s the position I want to be, the go-to guy. That’s where I strive to be. The experience I had when they were away and the chemistry I had with Morgan (Frost) was special.”

The Coyotes also selected defenseman Kevin Bahl (OHL’s Ottawa 67’s, second round, 55th overall), forward Jan Jenik (Benatky N.J. in Czech Republic, third round, 65th overall), defenseman Ty Emberson (U.S. NTDP, third round, 73rd overall), goaltender Ivan Prosvetov (USHL’s Youngstown Phantoms, fourth round, 114th overall), defenseman Mike Callahan (Youngstown, fifth round, 142nd overall), defenseman Dennis Busby (OHL’s Flint Firebirds, fifth round, 145th overall), goaltender David Tendeck (WHL’s Vancouver Giants, sixth round, 158th overall) and forward Liam Kirk (EIHL’s Sheffield Steelers, seventh round, 189th overall).

In Kirk, the Coyotes made NHL history by drafting the first player to be born and trained in the United Kingdom.

“I don’t have any words for it,” Kirk told NHL.com. “I’m just very excited and really emotional.”

Photo/Terry Wilson/OHL Images

— Matt Mackinder

(Aug. 3, 2018)