Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2020 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at Justin Barron.
A late-2001 birthday, Justin Barron was the 13th overall pick in the 2017 QMJHL Draft. Barron made an instant impact, being named to the QMJHL All-Rookie Team in 2017-18.
He followed that up with an impressive sophomore campaign with the Halifax Mooseheads in 2018-19. He put up nine goals and 32 assists for 41 points in 68 games played. Barron also added two goals and 11 assists for 13 points in 23 playoff games as the Mooseheads advanced to the QMJHL final and one point in four games as they went to the final of the Memorial Cup. He has also impressed internationally, with five points in five games at the 2018 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, winning a gold medal. He also won a silver medal at the 2017 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge playing for Team Canada Red.
This season, Barron has missed nearly three months due to being diagnosed with a blood clot. He has put up four goals and 15 assists for 19 points in 34 games for a rebuilding Halifax team that finished 17th in the QMJHL. Barron also appeared in two games for Team QMJHL in the Canada-Russia Super Series.
Justin Barron Scouting Report
Defence — shoots Right
Born November 15th, 2001 — Halifax, Nova Scotia
Height 6’2″ — Weight 195 lbs [188 cm / 88 kg]
Barron is an outstanding skater, and this helps him to play a strong two-way game. He gets around the ice quickly and can join the rush or pinch in at the blue line and still get back defensively. Barron has a long smooth stride. He generates high-end top speed and excellent acceleration in both directions. Smooth pivots allow Barron to transition quickly from offence to defence and vice-versa. He also has excellent edgework and agility. Barron is strong on his skates for his age. He can battle through checks and can also clear the front of the net and battle along the boards. Barron can be even better at this as he continues to mature and get stronger.
Barron can make a smart first pass to start the transition. He also uses his strong skating ability and good stickhandling to skate the puck out of danger and start the rush himself. He doesn’t lead the rush often, instead choosing to head-man the puck and join in as a trailer. Barron makes smart decisions on when to join in and doesn’t take undue risk. He sees the ice well and makes good decisions with the puck. This continues into the offensive zone where he has the vision and playmaking ability to play at the point. He is not overly creative though, preferring the safe and smart play.
Barron also has a good point shot. He can fire the puck on the net, keeping it low and allowing his teammates to deflect pucks or pounce on rebounds. He can also sneak down to the faceoff circles and let go of his wrist shot, which is hard and features a quick release. Barron opens up shooting and passing lanes due to his ability to walk the line and create chances.
Barron plays a disciplined defensive game and his skating helps him defend one-on-one situations. His excellent agility and edgework allow him to maintain good gap control. He is very hard to beat in one-on-one situations. Barron always keeps himself between his opponent and the net, forcing them to the outside and into bad shooting angles. He is not a huge hitter, instead preferring to play a disciplined positional game. However, Barron can also play physical, handling his man along the boards and fighting for position in front of the net. He has a long, active stick that cuts down passing and shooting lanes. Barron is also willing to sacrifice and put his body on the line to block shots. He shows his high-end hockey IQ in his ability to read the play, anticipate passes and create turnovers.
Projection and Comparison
Barron’s combination of size, smarts, and skating make him an intriguing prospect. The regression between his second and third year may concern some scouts though. However, the fact that Halifax lost so many star players along with Barron’s health concerns have to be taken into account when looking at that situation. If he is healthy and properly develops, Barron has the potential to be a top-pairing defender playing big minutes. He may never be an elite offensive defenceman but projects as a second unit power play player. Barron’s game is reminiscent of Charlie McAvoy but this is a stylistic comparison only and not a projection based on talent and ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Justin Barron that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Justin Barron Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images
BOISBRIAND, QC – OCTOBER 20: Justin Barron #20 of the Halifax Mooseheads looks to play the puck against the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada during the QMJHL game at Centre d’Excellence Sports Rousseau on October 20, 2017, in Boisbriand, Quebec, Canada. The Halifax Mooseheads defeated the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada 4-2. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)