|5’10”||167||4-4-04||C||Right||9th – 2020||B – NOV||CANADA|
|2019-20||Under – 16||Elgin Middlesex Chiefs||33||32||26||58|
|2020-21||OHL||DID NOT PLAY|
For the 9th overall pick at the 2020 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection that was deemed one of the top offensive producers in the 2022 NHL Draft Class from the OHL, it has not been a stellar start for Hunter Haight of the Barrie Colts. With just 5 goals and 6 assists in 19 games, more was expected because he is capable of more.
So, what’s the issue? Judging from what I have seen it is a size issue. Not so much his 5’10” but the measly 167 pounds he carries on that frame. Haight just isn’t capable of getting sustained time in front of the opposition net to get dirty chance goals as he is easily moved. And if you happen to be a good enough skater that you can catch him streaking down the wing, you can easily knock him off the puck.
That said, the skillset is definitely there and it should not be ignored. You can’t knock Haight’s effort. He plays the game with a lot of pace, is an extremely quick skater with the hands and the brains to go with it. Many times, you look at the same caliber player and suggest when his hands and brain catch up to his feet, he will be dangerous, but Haight is already there.
Haight’s ability to make plays at top speed is also pretty impressive. His skating – speed and edgework- allows him to maintain possession, buy time and with his IQ create space for himself and his teammates. He has the vision, creativity and playmaking skills to go along with that. He also has an NHL caliber shot already. The problem is that he is averaging just 1.7 shots per game, not enough for a player with his shot quality. Again, I attribute that to not having the muscle/size to get to the areas he needs to get too to get that shot off.
The most surprising thing, to me anyway, is that he has bought into what Coach Marty Williamson insists on and that is being a strong two-way player. There is no questioning Haight’s effort defensively, using his skating, IQ and the effort he brings at the other end of the ice to his own end.
There is no telling at this stage what NHL teams think of Haight. He certainly has the talent to be an early second round pick in the NHL Entry Draft. It will all come down to whether anyone has size concerns. If not, we could see him even go as high as a late first rounder, but if they do, he could even drop to the third round.
My perspective is this: When I look at Haight, I look back to Alex DeBrincat, not that I am comparing Haight to DeBrincat. But during his draft year, DeBrincat played at 5’7” and 160 pounds. Today, DeBrincat is playing at 167 pounds and is very successful and to put it simply, he found a way.
Haight is also going to have to find a way. Eventually, I think he will.