With training camps almost underway, the Coyotes have finally taken care of their last restricted free agent, announcing the signing of center Barrett Hayton to a two-year contract. While the team didn’t release the financial details, Craig Morgan of PHNX Sports reports (Twitter link) that the deal will carry an AAV of $1.775MM while CapFriendly provides (Twitter link) the breakdown:
The 22-year-old was the fifth-overall selection by Arizona back in 2018 and while he has shown some improvement since then, it’s safe to say that he hasn’t yet lived up to that draft billing. Last season, Hayton spent most of the season with the Coyotes, recording 10 goals and 14 assists in 60 games while averaging over 16 minutes per game; all of those numbers were career-highs. He also got into four games with AHL Tucson where he only managed a single assist.
Injuries have limited Hayton as well in the early going as he only has 94 career NHL appearances under his belt over his three professional seasons, notching 13 goals and 18 assists. His numbers haven’t been much better in the minors either as he has managed just seven goals and nine assists in 35 AHL contests. But he’s still young enough to believe that his best days are still ahead of him.
This bridge contract allows both sides a little more time to assess Hayton’s long-term future. His days of waiver exemption are now over so he’ll be up with Arizona for the entire season for the first time and he’ll likely have a spot in their top six again in 2022-23. If he can take some strides offensively over the next couple of years, he’ll put himself in line for a nice raise in 2024 and cement himself as part of their long-term plans. He’ll be owed a qualifying offer of $2.13MM in 2024 to retain his rights as a restricted free agent, this time with arbitration eligibility.