The 18-year-old defenseman has fallen in the rankings, but could still be worth drafting if the Flyers go for defense first.
Going into his junior season, it seemed Justin Barron was only scratching the surface of what he could do. He was looking like a potential top-10 pick and at worst 15th. Barron posted 41 points in his sophomore season. If he had continued that pace, he would be far out of reach for the Flyers going into the 2020 NHL Draft.
But things didn’t go as planned this past season. Barron didn’t seem to boast the same consistency he had a season ago. With 17 points in the Halifax Mooseheads first 27 games, it wasn’t an awful start to the year. But it was clear something was going on.
His season took a turn for the worse when he was diagnosed with a blood clot in early December that cost him least three months. That could explain his rough start to the season.
He would finish the season with 19 points which were still the most about Halifax defensemen, but nowhere near to what he had put up in seasons past. The significant time he missed almost certainly played a role. For context, he appeared in 68 games a season ago and 51 games his rookie season.
Despite all of that, there is still plenty to like about the way he plays. Earlier in the season, TSN’s Bob McKenzie described Barron as someone with great mobility who plays an all-around good game. He won’t wow anyone and his game isn’t necessarily heavy on offense. But he’s a solid puck-moving defenseman who can use the body when need be.
The most important thing for Barron right now will be his health. The blood clot cost him a lot of time heading towards the draft. Once looked at as a potential top-10 pick, he is now looked at as going late in the first round.
Currently holding the 25th pick in the draft, Barron is a player that could be available to the Flyers.
While the team has defensive depth, it isn’t as strong as what they boast in forwards. Travis Sanheim and Philippe Myers are the latest to graduate to the NHL.
Mark Friedman could be on his way next. Wyatt Wylie signed his entry-level contract and will be turning pro next season. Yegor Zamula was looking like a promising prospect, but a back injury has likely slowed him down.
Wyatt Kalynuk could be the next candidate for an entry-level deal. And Cam York has been extremely impressive. Beyond that, there aren’t many names that stand out for the Flyers. This is where Barron could come in.
Barron will be heading back to Halifax for his senior season. At least, that’s the likely destination for him. With the cancellation of the season and his unfortunate injury, another year in juniors would get Barron back up to speed. He did return at the end of February, collecting two points in seven games.
It’s fair to be wary of drafting Barron in the first round. His health scare this season is almost certainly at the top of the list as to reasons why. But he still boasts a strong two-way game that would be a great addition to any team. And it could be the Flyers if adding defense is on their mind early on.