Arguably Penn State’s best recruit ever will build even more hype this weekend, when he’s drafted into the NHL. Ranked 65th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, he’s projected to hear his name somewhere between the second and fourth rounds. Penn State’s previous highest draftees are Eamon McAdam (third round, 70th overall in 2013) and Max Gardiner (third round, 74th overall in 2010), so Barratt has an opportunity to make more history.
All signs point towards him being a star at the collegiate level and beyond. But before we talk about that, let’s see how he earned this ranking.
Where he’s been
Barratt will be the first Nittany Lion to come out of the USDP. (He’s a patriot. Another reason to like him.) His 56 points was third on the team last year; some previous guys who scored at around that level in the program are Colin White, Dylan Larkin, and Brandon Saad. He also was almost a point-per-game player at the most recent World Junior Championship, where his team won gold.
He’ll be one of the few hockey players who starts their college career at age 18, but he already has the right frame at 5’11, 187 lbs. He performed greatly in his draft year, and heading into Hockey Valley, he’s worthy of the hype.
Where he is
Excerpts from Last Word on Hockey:
“Barratt’s skating is a bit of a work in progress. His first step is sluggish, and his stride is a bit awkward … Barratt is a sniper. He has the hockey IQ to read the play and settle into a soft spot in the offensive zone, waiting for a pass from a teammate. Once he gets that pass, he can fire the puck. He has an outstanding wrist shot, and his release is NHL ready … Barratt is advanced defensively ... This has made him a key penalty killer for the US NTDP, as well as someone trusted in all situations.
Barratt’s game is reminiscent of Sean Couturier of the Philadelphia Flyers, but this is a style comparison and not a talent based one.”
From SB Nation College Hockey:
“Not a fast skater, but he hustles. His best asset is his playmaking ability, but struggled to get much going in either game. If he can get a little faster, he has some good offensive upside.”
From The Draft Analyst:
“One of the better two-way forwards in the draft in terms of having a complete understanding of duties and responsibilities in the defensive zone ... Barratt is a hard-nosed, 200-foot center with excellent vision, but he can also throw his weight around and be relentless on the forecheck. Barratt was one of Team USA’s top point producers at even strength, but his elusiveness and soft touch during the man advantage enabled him to create plays against static zone defenses. He owns a ridiculous wrist shot, and he’s quick enough to escape from a board battle and fire a quality shot on net — one that goalies have a tough time handling from any angle.”
So, there’s a ton of generic draft-talk in there (pretty much all boxes are checked except that he’s a “coach’s son-type player” -- which is technically true), but here’s the consensus. He’s an agile, capable skater who isn’t very explosive, nor does he have a high top-end speed. He has terrific vision, paired with great wrist shots and one-timers, which he uses both at even strength and on special teams; yet, the best part of his game is his defense. As a Flyers fan, a comparison to Sean Couturier is all I need to hear. For non-Flyers fans, this means that his coach can set him on the other team’s best player, and he’ll shut them down all night. It sounds like he’ll have a unique fit on Penn State’s team, as well as his expected NHL career.
Where he’s going
Barratt has top-line potential at the college level, and seems like a shut-down bottom-six center in the NHL who can chip in with a decent amount of offense. I think he’ll be a third-round pick; here are some teams without much center depth in their system, and when they pick in that round.
- Vegas Golden Knights No. 65 overall
- Carolina Hurricanes Nos. 67, 73 overall
- Buffalo Sabres Nos. 68, 89 overall
- Arizona Coyotes Nos. 69, 78 overall
- Columbus Blue Jackets No. 86 overall
- Montreal Canadiens No. 87 overall
He’ll immediately be one of, if not the, best center prospects in their systems. The Buffalo Pegulas drafted Brett Murray last year and could take another Nittany Lion this year, or maybe one of the Pennsylvania teams will keep the Morrisville native in his home state. Personally, I’m rooting for Vegas to take him just because I think that would be fun.
In the short term, however, he’ll spend a couple years in college before going pro. He should immediately be a top-two center for the Nittany Lions, the other being Chase Berger. National Team alumni typically succeed in college, so expect Barratt to be among Penn State’s leading scorers, barring injury or other misfortune.
Barratt is a great prospect, both for Penn State and for whoever drafts him this Friday. Check back here the next two days for our draft profiles of Aarne Talvitie and Denis Smirnov.