As he charts a path towards the 2018 draft day podium, Barrett Hayton of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds knows he’s able to benefit from those who have blazed the same trail before him.
And none has been more beneficial than teammate Morgan Frost, selected 27th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2017 NHL Draft.
“He’s helped me out with what to expect in my draft year,” Hayton said. “It’s something that I think having a great guy like that to answer any questions if need be, and just to be there throughout the whole year is definitely great.
“He’s told me just not to worry about the lists and the rankings. Everything comes around and you can’t really get caught up in all of that. Just play your game and it will work out.”
For his part, Frost is just paying forward the support that he received.
He was, after all, just embarking on his draft journey a year ago.
“I think I had some great role models — Blake Speers and Zach Senyshyn, who went through the same things — and they told me the same things that I’m telling a guy like Barrett,” Frost said. “The biggest takeaway is that one game is not going to define your draft year; not to think about impressing scouts every shift or what you think this scout is going to like to see — it’s about playing your game, playing it the right way, and having fun with it. “
Frost added that he believes that keeping an even keel is important as a player navigates their draft-eligible year.
“I think a big part of it is that you have to be consistent,” he explained. “Not every night is going to be your greatest and sometimes you’re going to have off nights. That’s one of the main things about being picked high and being a good player is that you have to keep that consistency and be an impact player every night.
“You try to be consistent, but you can’t have the mindset that one game is going to ruin it for you.”
Hayton, who won gold with Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament in August, is quickly rising up the charts.
But it’s the ice, and not what’s in print, that has his attention.
“I try not to pay attention to that,” Hayton said. “Obviously it’s very nice to see, but you try to put it away and focus on the season. I try not to look at them too much.”
Hayton’s campaign started with a strong performance at the Hlinka tournament, where he scored three goals and added five assists in five games as his country claimed gold.
“Being able to go over there and accomplish our goal that we set for ourselves at the start of camp in Calgary was definitely amazing,” he said. “It was a really cool experience being over in Europe.”
The Hlinka experience has continued into the OHL regular season.
The Greyhounds are off to a 4-1-1-0 start and Hayden is averaging just under a point-per-game with three goals and five points.
“It’s definitely awesome, just being pushed by the best players in the world,” he said. “It’s definitely something where you feel where you’re at and it gives you an idea of what you need to work on. My skating is something I need to work on — especially the top speed.
“That’s already something that I’m trying to improve. I don’t feel that it’s a weak area of my game, but it’s something that I feel I can improve to be a better player.”
His chats, like the ones shared with Frost, have helped.
So too has the off-season work Hayton did for his late-summer, early-autumn success.
And a rise up the rankings.
“This summer I worked on my strength,” he said. “I was able to gain 10 pounds of good muscle and my skating improved. Really just all aspects of my game developed over the summer and that’s something I’m really excited about.”