Who is Justin Barron?
Justin Barron, after an extremely promising rookie campaign with Halifax, suffered through a very difficult sophomore campaign, seeing his draft stock drop considerably from beginning to end. Who is Justin Barron?
Justin Barron is a 6’2” defender, weighing 195 lbs. Drafted 13th overall in the 2017 QJMHL draft, Barron’s rookie season was nothing short of excellent. In his rookie season, Barron was a stud offensively and defensively. Barron recorded 9 goals and 32 assists, coupled with a +/- of 42. This strong season was enough to propel him into early conversations as a borderline top-10 pick.
Now, Barron is ranked as high as 23, and as low as 70 (!). What caused this drop?
Last season was a struggle for Barron. Starting the season, Barron stayed close to pace offensively, with 4 goals and 15 assists through 34 games. What did fall, however, was his defense. Barron recorded a +/- of -19 through those 34 games, struggling to shore up the defense of Halifax. To further worsen everything, Barron suffered a blood clot, taking him out of hockey for nearly 3 months.
His full stats can be found below
Where is He Ranked?
What Others Say?
“Look, if Justin Barron did not have bad luck with a blood clot this year, we likely are not talking about him as a borderline first round selection. He came into the year as potentially the first defender off the board, but some bad luck has him pushed down many lists. He has size, mobility, and the potential to develop into a quality two-way, top 3 defender.”
Otten is clearly high on Barron’s game. A lot of the risk regarding Barron originates from his injury, which is a nice sign for his career. Otten praises Barron’s NHL-ready size, great mobility, and sky-high potential.
“Barron, who was 13th in my preseason ranking and has some really nice qualities, has begun to do the same. I had high hopes for him this season and he just hasn’t met those expectations to date. Does that mean he’s not a legitimate prospect? No.”
Wheeler, before Barron’s injury, spoke of expectations falling to start the season. His struggles are noted, and Wheeler evidently is very disappointed in how he played. However, Wheeler does note that Barron is still a legitimate prospect with high ability. We’ll see if this results in a lottery pick.
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.
Being compared to McAvoy is an awesome comparison for Barron’s chances in getting drafted earlier than projections. While he is noted to be less skilled than McAvoy, many teams would stand to gain from a discount-version. Furthermore, his intelligence and skills could help him develop even further, and surprise many.
The first video is some highlights from Justin Barron in the 2019-2020 season
These highlights show a smooth-skating, calm defensive force. He is looking for the smart play, not the flashy play, and at points it is clear he is better than everyone on the ice. He looks for open teammates, but when given the opportunity to shoot is not afraid to let it rip.
Here are some early highlights of Barron in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup
Excellent vision, and a good understanding of the game is shown in these highlights. Barron knows where to look with passes, what to look for, and is clearly a competent player.
What I Think:
If Barron drops to the late 1st, like many expect him to, I’d love the Devils to pick him up. While the Devils need to prioritize offense, they also need a reliable defensive option with the potential to turn top 4. Barron could fit that profile in the future, and I’d love the gamble.
Would you love the Devils to snag Barron? What are your thoughts on his play? Let me know in the comments below, and take care.