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Coyotes’ Barrett Hayton joining Team Canada for World Juniors

Barrett Hayton #29 of the Arizona Coyotes in action during the third period of the NHL game against the Vegas Golden Knights at Gila River Arena on October 10, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Golden Knights 4-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Arizona Coyotes rookie forward Barrett Hayton will join Team Canada for the World Junior Championship this winter, the Coyotes announced Thursday.

“I think it’s huge for me,” Hayton said. “I think really, any time you have the chance to represent your country, you want to take full advantage of that. With that being said, also, just for me to get ice and go play, take a big role and to take a big leadership role, it’s something I want to do.”

The news gives Hayton playing time as an NHL-experienced player for Canada’s junior squad, as he’s recently been sitting out of Coyotes games. He hasn’t played since Nov. 29 and Thursday marked the seventh consecutive game that Hayton hasn’t played.

“I think it’s just a good situation for him,” head coach Rick Tocchet said. “Because it’s tough for a kid not to play every six games, and we didn’t want to put him in this predicament. And he’s ready to go.”

Hayton planned to leave Friday to head to Toronto and join his teammates, which will include fellow Coyotes prospect Kevin Bahl. He’ll join a Team Canada that’s coached by London Knights (OHL) head coach Dale Hunter, with Ottawa 67s (OHL) head coach Andre Tourigny and Saskatoon Blades (WHL) head coach Mitch Love as the assistants.

The tournament itself will take place in Ostrava and Trinec, Czech Republic.

“This is a great opportunity for Barrett to continue his development,” Coyotes general manager John Chayka said in a press release. “Barrett will be one of Team Canada’s leaders and will play a significant role on the team against some of the best young talent in the world. He will gain invaluable experience and will return to the Coyotes after the tournament to help us the rest of the season.”

Hayton played for Team Canada last year as a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL, his junior team. He made the Coyotes out of training camp this year.

“I think the bottom line is you want to win. I think that goal never really changes,” Hayton said. “Obviously coming in as an 18-year-old last year, it’s a step up in pace. I had been used to kind of junior pace. It’s kind of the closest thing to NHL pace. And now that I have that NHL experience under my belt, I feel I can really take advantage of that.”

In 14 NHL games this year, Hayton has one goal and three assists for four points. He hasn’t been playing every game, but even when he does, he’s often registering a team-low in minutes played. He is averaging 11:08 in ice time and played only 7:59 in his last game, against Vegas.

“Yeah, I’m really looking forward to [getting playing time],” Hayton said. “I love playing this game, it will be great to go over there and have a big role and make an impact.”

The World Junior Championship begins on Dec. 26. Canada’s first game will be against the United States at 1 p.m., which will be broadcast on the NHL Network.

“Intense competition,” Tocchet said. “He’s going to go there, he’s going to be the main guy, he’s going to be a leader. He’ll probably be one of the captains. It’s about a two, three-week of just intense hockey, play for your country. It’s something that he needs, but when he’s done, he’ll be back here again.

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