Sabres sign forward John Hayden to one-year deal

Hayden could be in competition for a bottom-six role with the Sabres in the 2021-22 season

The Buffalo Sabres made another free agent signing Thursday afternoon, inking forward John Hayden to a one-year deal worth the veteran league minimum of $750,000.

Hayden comes over from the Arizona Coyotes, where he spent this past season playing 29 games mainly in a fourth line checking role. The 6-foot-3, 223-pound winger was able to net two goals and add three assists for five points in the desert.

The 26-year-old was originally a third round pick (74th overall) of the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2013 NHL Draft out of the United States National Team Development Program. After four years playing at Yale University, Hayden signed his entry-level contract in 2017, appearing in 12 games to close out the regular season in Chicago.

In parts of three seasons with the Blackhawks, Hayden was able to dress in 113 games, scoring eight goals and registering 14 assists for 22 points. His best season came in his first full professional year, where he scored four goals and picked up nine assists for 13 points in 47 games. That same season saw Hayden put up 17 points (5+12) in 24 games with the Rockford IceHogs in the American Hockey League.

Following the 2018-19 season, the Blackhawks traded Hayden to the New Jersey Devils in a one-for-one deal for forward John Quenneville. However, things did not catch on with the Devils, as Hayden only registered four points (3+1) in 43 games in New Jersey.

While Hayden primarily plays a fourth line checking role, he does possess a good shot that allows him to be a scoring threat. He will likely compete in a similar role this season with the Sabres.

Hayden also has some familiarity with current Sabres head coach Don Granato, who was an assistant coach with the Blackhawks from 2017 to 2019 under Joel Quenneville.

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