Justin Barron continues to rate as a promising future NHL candidate despite some recent frustration for the Halifax Mooseheads’ defenseman. The 18-year-old was touted as a leading draft prospect on the strength of his excellent junior form and he retains a strong position despite some dipping of his form in the wake of injuries.
The loss of the 2020 NHL Draft is a setback but, arguably, this will give Barron a chance to reset and be ready if and when the chance to shine and make that step up into the NHL does eventually come along. Representing Halifax in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has been the ideal grounding for Barron.
He admits it has been ‘special’ to line out for his home-town team, one that was always ‘the big thing’ for Barron as a child forming his views of ice hockey in Halifax. Barron also noted the likes of Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin from the Mooseheads’ Memorial Cup-winning 2012-13 team as the early inspirations and a barometer as to what can be achieved.
McKinnon was the overall first pick in the 2013 NHL Draft and the four-time All-Star continues to be a focal point at the Colorado Avalanche as the enters his mid-20s having attained alternate captain status.
Third pick in that 2013 draft, Drouin also continues to thrive having traded to the Montreal Canadiens in 2017 and he has now got more than 300 NHL appearances under his belt.
While neither player has yet managed to scale the NHL mountain, McKinnon is well placed with his Colorado side routinely featuring prominently in the NHL betting odds to end their wait for a third franchise Stanley Cup victory, which would be the Avalanche’s first since 2001.
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McKinnon and Drouin are the poster boys for a home-town Halifax kid like Barron and he will retain his aspirations of joining them in the ranks of the NHL. Barron was a projected Top-20 candidate for the 2020 Draft according to Elite Hockey Prospects.
His sophomore season garnered plenty of attention on Barron, though it must be said things stalled for him slightly in the season just gone by. The Mooseheads struggled as a team and, with that, Barron’s personal gains were lowered from his sophomore term. Barron will point to the injury that put him on the sidelines from early December as a contributing factor.
It is by no means a reason to doubt the teenager maintains a future hope of joining the elite. Standing at 6’2″ Barron has the physical attributes required to make the grade. He’s strong and versatile and comes out positively in his one-on-one battles, while he’s noted as a reliable link-up between defense and offense for the Mooseheads.
Patience has become the diet of necessity for Barron owing to injury and other outside factors. But it still feels like a diversion more than a roadblock on his path to the NHL. Despite being founded as recently as 1994 the Halifax Mooseheads have a strong track record for producing talent that can progress to that elite level and, in Barron, the Nova Scotia outfit retains its latest talented up-and-comer with an NHL dream on his radar.