Justin Barron is a 2020 NHL Draft-eligible prospect, who could potentially be a top-20 draft selection. Barron is a Halifax, Nova Scotia native and grew up playing in the Halifax ACCEL Hawks organization. After he completed his two bantam seasons in 2016, he suited up for the Halifax McDonald’s for one season. Throughout his time spent with Halifax ACCEL Hawks Bantam and Halifax McDonald’s, he recorded 15 goals and 36 assists in a combined 96 games played.
Barron was drafted by the Halifax Mooseheads in the 2017 QMJHL Entry Draft at 13th overall. Since joining the Mooseheads organization, he has been featured in 126 games. Barron has mustered up 11 goals and 53 assists. Last season, he was the 15th best offensive producing defenseman in the QMJHL. Barron was just a few points short of cracking the top 10. Gabriel Bilodeau, Pierre-Olivier Joseph (Pittsburgh Penguins prospect), Xavier Bouchard (Vegas Golden Knights prospect), Dominic Cormier and Ryan DaSilva performed slightly better than Barron did. So far this season, Barron has appeared in seven games and tallied 2 assists. If Barron surpasses last year’s point totals (41 points), he can help raise his draft stock. As an offensive defenseman, Barron’s point totals will be crucial to how far he goes in the NHL Draft.
Throughout his time in bantam, midget and junior hockey, he has played alongside many NHL prospects including Benoit-Olivier Groulx (Anaheim Ducks prospect), Arnaud Durandeau (New York Islanders prospect), Raphaël Lavoie (Edmonton Oilers prospect), Jared McIsaac (Detroit Red Wings prospect), Alexis Gravel (Chicago Blackhawks prospect), Ostap Safin (Edmonton Oilers prospect), Filip Zadina (Detroit Red Wings prospect), Otto Somppi (Tampa Bay Lightning), Matthew Steinburg (Colorado Avalanche prospect) and Ethan Phillips (Detroit Red Wings prospect).
All-in-all, Barron has had a solid junior career, but the right-handed defenseman still has a lot of work ahead of him. There is a lot of fierce competition for the second overall drafted defenseman. Jamie Drysdale (Erie Otters) is the clear number one defenseman, who will be selected in the draft. Aside from Drysdale, Barron will be competing against Jérémie Poirier (Saint John Sea Dogs), Lukas Cormier (Charlottetown Islanders), Shakir Mukhamadullin (Salavat Yulaev Ufa) and Tyler Kleven (USNTDP) for the second defenseman selected.
Weight: 187 lbs
Barron’s skating might be the worst component of his game. He has a fast stride, but his edges and crossovers are not as impressive as the skating of Lukas Cormier, Jérémie Poirier and Jamie Drysdale. While his edges and crossovers are weak compared to the competition, his lateral movements are solid and he shows them off on the point as he transitions from side to side on the blue line as he attempts to find the optimal teammate to pass the puck to.
Even though there are some flaws in his skating ability, he is a solid puck-moving defenseman and always tends to find gaps in all three zones as he glides the puck up the ice.
There is one component to his skating that I have not touched on yet and that is his ability to make quality tight turns. His turning radius is solid and he will use his turns to psych out his opponent in the offensive zone as he looks to make passes from the point. In the video below, you can check out one of his turns.
Barron’s shot is easily the best component of his game. He consistently fires lasers from the blue line. Barron has a quick release and has a filthy slap shot. With his powerful slap shot, he creates several scoring chances and his shot paves the way for numerous rebound opportunities for his teammates. With Barron’s success in creating rebound after rebound, he can muster up plenty of assists.
In the video clip below, you will see Barron’s solid shot selection on the power play. He does fire a couple of shots but finally finds pay dirt towards the end of the clip. Barron will often look for a shot that create rebounds as he does not seem confident in his abilities to go top shelf from the point. Throughout the clip, you will also notice Barron’s quality passing, which we will touch on next.
Barron’s passing might be the most underrated component of his game. The 17-year-old defenseman makes smart passes in the offensive zone. Consistently, Barron will deliver crisp quality passes to his teammates. His cross-ice and stretch passes are exceptional. In terms of accuracy, his passing is constantly on point and he does not often get burned on an interception.
As I brought up in the skating segment, Barron is a quality puck-moving defenseman. He consistently finds gaps in all three zones and loves to control the pace of the game in the offensive zone.
With that being said, Barron’s stick handling is solid, but far from flashy. If you are expecting Barron to make swift moves with the puck and dance around his opposition, he will fail you. That is not his game. Even though he is not a stellar stick handler, his puck control is pretty sound and will not cough up the puck too often.
In terms of Barron’s defensive ability, he is truly dynamic in the defensive zone. Given his size, he is consistently called upon to deliver high-quality hits along the side walls in an attempt to steal the puck away from his opponents as they attempt to come down the ice on an offensive rush.
Also, Barron tracks the puck well and will keep his eyes open for opportunities to create a poke check and steal the puck. In the video clip, you can check out Barron tracks his opponents moving the puck. Even though nothing comes out of this play, you can see that Barron stays in position and when the puck hits the boards, he sees his defensive partner on the puck and does not bunch up.
The NHL team that selects Justin Barron will be selecting a high-octane offensive threat. With his elite shot from the point and his crisp passing, there is a lot to like. That same team just needs to keep in mind that if they want a defenseman who will create flashy spin moves or dekes to evade his opponents, Barron is not their guy. Instead, Barron makes up for it with his strong defensive ability as he will continue to pounce on his opponents along the boards.
Given Barron’s lethal shot and high-quality passing, his fantasy value is considerably high. When Barron is ready for the NHL, he will likely round out into a solid top-four defenseman with top two upside. Also, you can expect Barron to soar on the power play and generate a significant amount of power-play points.