Welcome to another summer of Blackhawks’ Future Friday. In this weekly column, we explore some of the prospects in the Blackhawks’ system, and see how far they’ve come in the past year, as well as discuss their future with the club. This Friday, we take a look at a draft pick from this past June that made a name for himself at Blackhawks’ Prospect camp: forward John Hayden.
Hayden was drafted in the third round by the Blackhawks this June at the NHL Entry Draft in Philadelphia, at #74 overall. He was passed over at the 2013 draft in his first year of eligibility, but a strong season in the East Coast Athletic Conference with Yale University saw his stock skyrocket.
Prior to his first year of draft eligibility, Hayden spent two seasons with the U.S. National Development Team at the USHL level. He has been involved with USA Hockey since 2010, when he was invited to their select 15-player development camp, at age 15. With the Development Team, he played two seasons alongside 2013 Blackhawks’ draft pick Tyler Motte. In the 2011-12 season, Ryan Hartman, the Blackhawks’ first-rounder in 2013 also played for the club.
Despite appearing in 12 fewer games than the season before, Hayden recorded 20 points and 51 penalty minutes, and was a +13 (compared to a -7 the season before), all of which were equal or greater totals than 2011-12.
With Yale this past season, Hayden appeared in 33 games, finishing with 6 goals and 16 points, along with 18 PIMs, and was -3.
Hayden’s dimensions would make him one of the biggest Blackhawk forwards, at 6-foot-3, 210 lb. Hayden is said to play a physical offensive game, with the ability to throw a big bodycheck, or make a smart play in the offensive zone. Hockey’s Future had this to say about Hayden:
"John Hayden is a center with many of the tools NHL teams look for in the draft. He has the size, skills, and aggressive temperament to develop into a top-nine power forward. Equally comfortable carrying the puck or finishing the play, Hayden is especially effective around the net. He does not shy away from throwing his weight around and has the capacity to be a force in the physical game. Skating is still an area in need of improvement for Hayden as well as continuing to develop his overall game."
Hayden was very impressive at Blackhawks’ Prospect Camp just weeks after he was drafted, where he teamed up with 2014 first-rounder Nick Schmaltz to contribute offensively in each of the four scrimmages at the camp. Hayden was off to USA Hockey’s World Junior Championship evaluation camp after that, where he is reported to have a solid shot at making America’s U-20 roster. In the fall, Hayden will return to Yale, and the Blackhawks will have the option to sign the center after the coming season, where he could choose to spend four years at the NCAA level.
Hayden will try to follow in the footsteps of current Blackhawks’ center Andrew Shaw, who was passed over in two drafts before his fifth-round selection back in 2011. Although there is a solid 5 inches of height difference between the two pivots, Hayden can very well model his game after #65, and may take the long road to the NHL, just as Shaw did.
For the moment, however, Hayden is taking everything in stride, HF reports.
"“I think our squad at Yale is capable of winning every trophy that we’re in contention for. We have a great coaching staff, great players. And then personally, I want to make this (WJC) team, then we all here want to make it to the National Hockey League, but it’s more of a take it year-by-year thing. I’m here and focused on USA Hockey, then in the Fall I’m focused on Yale. I think taking it year by year is the best way to do it and not try to get too far ahead of yourself.”"
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