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Arizona Coyotes assign first-round pick Barrett Hayton to junior team

Arizona Coyotes 2018 first-round draft pick center Barrett Hayton (22) skates behind forward Lane Pederson (93) at the team’s rookie camp at the Ice Den in Scottsdale, Ariz. on Sept. 7, 2018. (Matt Layman/Arizona Sports)

The Arizona Coyotes surprised some when they had their first-round pick from this year, Barrett Hayton, on their opening night roster. The move was viewed as a way for the 18-year-old to get valuable off-ice experience in the NHL, and if he appeared in a game, good for him.

Two games into the season — and hours before the team was set to go to Anaheim for its third contest of the year — Hayton has been sent back to his junior team, the Sault St. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL. He did not appear in a regular season game for the Coyotes.

“His hockey IQ is really, really good,” head coach Rick Tocchet said Tuesday. “That’s one of the reasons why we picked him. His leadership skills are great. Now he’s got to work on the physical part. He’s an 18-, 19-year-old kid. He’s going to grow, he’s got to work on a few things physically like any young kid can do. And when he does that, he’s going to be a complete player. But we have a process we’d like him to go through and he’s asking the right questions, and he’s a good kid. I really like him.”

A corresponding move wasn’t immediately announced.

When asked who would take Hayton’s spot on the roster, Tocchet said the team will currently go with one extra forward and one extra defenseman to Anaheim, which would leave an open roster spot, for now.

The Coyotes currently have four players on injured reserve, including forward Josh Archibald, who skated at the Scottsdale Ice Den on Monday and again at Gila River Arena on Tuesday. He’s still considered day-to-day, and was not yet cleared for contact.

“We have some healthy bodies– we’re going to have some healthy bodies back,” Tocchet said. “So, it’s just a matter of letting [Hayton] getting back, playing again.”

Arizona’s next game is on Wednesday at Anaheim, which beat the Coyotes on Saturday at Gila River Arena. In that game, the Coyotes were without forward Laurent Dauphin — not just because he was scratched, but because he was in Tucson on a conditioning assignment in the AHL. He has since returned to the club, but he had counted against the roster all along, as stipulated by the rules of conditioning loans. Thus, Dauphin’s return to the roster would not have been what prompted Hayton’s reassignment.

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