Soo Greyhounds centre Barrett Hayton is one of six Ontario Hockey League skaters who has an “A” rating on the initial list of players to watch for the 2018 National Hockey League draft.
In all, 48 players from the OHL are listed on the NHL Central Scouting early watch list for the June 22-23 draft, which will be held in Dallas.
The 48 OHL players are included in a list of 108 from the Canadian Hockey League who have caught the early attention of NHL Central Scouting. As the OHL has 48 players rated, the Quebec Major Jr. Hockey League has 33 and the Western Hockey League trails the other two CHL loops with 27.
As a rookie pivot in 2016-2017, Hayton netted 9 goals, 18 assists, 27 points in 63 regular-season games. The 6-foot-1, 180 pound Hayton added a pair of goals in 9 playoff outings.
As an aside, Hayton is strong academically and was the Greyhounds scholastic player-of-the-year for the 2016-2017 season. He is also the son of former OHL defenseman and coach Brian Hayton, who is now employed as a teacher. The Haytons hail from Peterborough, Ont.
To be sure, Greyhounds general Kyle Raftis has always good words to say about the younger Hayton, who the Soo selected in the first round, ninth overall, at the 2016 OHL draft.
“He can score goals and one of the hardest things to do at the OHL level is to be an elite goal scorer. With his high IQ, high skill, high compete, he goes to the dirty areas,” Raftis told Postmedia, in praise of Hayton.
Joining Hayton as “A” rated players from the OHL for the 2018 NHL draft are fellow forwards Ryan McLeod of the Mississauga Steelheads, Andrei Svechnikov of the Barrie Colts and Akil Thomas of the Niagara IceDogs and defensemen Evan Bouchard of the London Knights and Ryan Merkley of the Guelph Storm.
“A” rated players are projected as potential first-round picks at the 2018 NHL draft.
Meanwhile, nine OHL skaters and two goalies received a “B” rating, which indicates second and third round possibles for the 2018 NHL draft.
Of note, the top ranked OHL goalies include Jacob Ingham of Mississauga and Jordan Kooy of London.
Twenty-nine skaters and two goaltenders received a “C” rating, which indicates potential fourth, fifth and sixth round selection at the 2018 NHL draft.
Overall, London leads the way with five players included in the rankings while Mississauga, the Oshawa Generals and Ottawa 67’s have four each.
The OHL’s Michigan-based teams, Flint Firebirds and Saginaw Spirit, each have three players mentioned in the NHL Central Scouting rankings.
Flint, seen as a team on the rise in the Western Conference for this season and beyond, boasts forwards Ty Dellandrea and Hunter Holmes and defenseman Dennis Busby on the NHL Central Scouting list.
Dellandrea and Holmes have “B” rankings while Busby has a “C” rating.
All three players are in their second season in Flint and are benefiting from the tutelage of 32-year old head coach Ryan Oulahen. Oulahen is viewed as a rising star in the major junior coaching ranks.
Over in Saginaw, the trio of 2000 birth-year skaters rated for the 2018 NHL draft includes forwards Maxim Grondin and Blade Jenkins and defenseman Caleb Everett.
Grondin, a hulking 6-foot-3, 205-pound center, hails from the northeastern Ontario town of Hearst.
Jenkins and Everett are both American-born prospects from the state of Michigan.
All three Spirit players on the NHL Central Scouting watch list are “C” rated.
Meanwhile, a fourth player taken by Saginaw general manager Dave Drinkill at the 2016 OHL draft is on the NHL watch list as a “B” rated skater.
That player is big defenseman Bode Wilde, who has not signed with Saginaw but remains Spirit property.
Wilde is currently in his second season with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program.