Whichever team drafts John Hayden will get a player who has plenty of international experience and a style of play that is molded for the pro game. The Greenwich, Conn. native has spent the past two years playing for the US National Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Next up for Hayden is a chance to play for the defending national champion Yale Bulldogs. Yale's home rink, Ingalls Rink, is a little less than an hour away from his hometown. At Yale, Hayden will have the values of hard work and strength and conditioning reinforced. After winning the national title in Pittsburgh in April, many Yale players and members of the coaching staff credited the work they put in during the off-season as a key reason.
Prior to the past two seasons in Ann Arbor, Hayden played for Brunswick Prep in the New England Prep School Athletic Conference (NEPSAC). He put up 21 goals and 9 assists in 26 games for the Bruins.
Hayden played for the USNDPT's Under-17 team last season before joining the Under-18 team this year. He showed his offensive skill and ability to create scoring chances throughout the season. He was named to the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game and was a member of the United States team at the Under-18 World Junior Championships. The red, white and blue brought home the silver medal.
Hayden joins a roster with some impressive talent including Kenny Agostino, a Penguins draft pick whose rights were traded to Calgary in the Jarome Iginla deal. Hayden will have the opportunity to develop his hockey talents while receiving a world-class education at Yale.
Hayden will most likely play at least two seasons at Yale before signing with the team that drafts him. Down the road, Hayden projects to be a solid second line power forward.
Jeff Cox covers college hockey, the AHL and the NHL Draft for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.