Upon the end of his senior campaign with Yale University, John Hayden signed a two-year contract with the Blackhawks and could make his NHL debut as soon as tonight in Ottawa. Hayden was one of eight prospects profiled in the upcoming March/April issue of Blackhawks Magazine, on sale Sunday, March 19. Below, read what the Blackhawks development staff had to say about Hayden's final year in the NCAA and what he'll bring at the pro level.
A perennial standout at prospect camp, Hayden showed some dominant performances last summer that suggested he was nearly ready for the pro game. But the 22-year-old, who has oozed leadership at every level up to and including college, wanted to return for a fourth year. He had an opportunity to wear the "C" for Yale in his senior season while continuing to hone his game, and in the eyes of the organization, he's done just that, ending the campaign with 34 points (21G, 13A) in 33 games while leading the nation with 174 shots on goal and 5.27 shots per game (as of March 15). Overall, he scored 50 goals and added 41 assists in 127 career games, increasing his offensive output in all four years.
"One of the comments from his coaches is that he's the best captain they've had, so it's really been great to have him be a leader there and take a lot of pride in that," said Development Coach Derek Plante. "That's a good thing going forward for our organization, having that leadership."
On the ice, Hayden is the full package: size, strength and a heavy, accurate shot. Equally as impressive to the Blackhawks is his off-ice demeanor, with Plante citing his work ethic as a reason for continued improvements to his game. There's no doubt that Hayden's college career has been successful and worthwhile, and he'll bring a tantalizing skill set to the pro game.
"He's something that we don't have a ton of [in the system], with his size and his physicality," Plante said. "Hopefully he can produce and score at the same time, but he can have a presence out there, create space for some of our other guys and be a heavy player."