The Red Wings 2018 draft was met with high praise right out of the gates. Names like Filip Zadina, Joseph Veleno, and Jonatan Berggren, among others, you’ll see towards the top of the WingsNation prospect rankings. One of the after thoughts of that class, however, is defensemen Seth Barton, selected 81st overall in the 3rd round. But the lack of attention he receives is almost unfair, and in time will be a well-known name among Red Wings fans.
Perceived as an “off the board” selection by the Detroit scouting staff, Barton was high on their list for promising offensive abilities with a pro frame. He is raw and will take time to develop, but he showed great progress during his freshman year for the UMass-Lowell River Hawks.
Barton’s path to becoming an NHL draft pick did not come without its road bumps.
The majority of his draft year he spent playing minor midget in the BCMML. You won’t find too many NHL scouts flooding the lower-tier amateur rinks of Western Canada in search of potential draft picks. This level of competition, simply put, is not meant for NHL projections. Trying to evaluate these parts is largely a waste of time, for the purpose of the NHL draft that is.
Thus, Barton went undrafted his first year of eligibility. Luckily for him he is a mid August birthday, so time is on his side in terms of development. Had he been born a month later his first year of draft eligibility would have come in 2018 anyway. For his draft-plus-one season he played for the Trail Smoke Eaters of the BCHL, recording 6 goals and 33 points in 49 games. He made a strong impression at the World Junior A Challenge as well, which put him on the radar of many. Ultimately, he landed at number 94 on NHL Central Scouting’s rankings of North American skaters.
The Red Wings liked him even more, selecting him with the 81st pick of the 2018 NHL Draft.
Following the draft he slipped away to the University of Massachusetts Lowell and had a sneaky good year. Due to some injuries on the UMass-Lowell blue-line, Barton was trusted in a larger role than originally anticipated and didn’t look out-of-place as a freshman. His point totals won’t wow you — 2 goals and 10 points in 33 games — but playing in the tough conference that is Hockey East, those are decent numbers for a young defensemen. There is every reason to believe he can build off those numbers going into his sophomore season.
The calling card to Barton’s game is certainly his puck moving. His primary role this past season in college was to play a sound game and contribute to transition. He showcased good vision to find his forwards up ice and he can deliver a solid, crisp pass on the tape. From that standpoint, he made an impact on the game to help UMass-Lowell find its incredible depth scoring.
There are of course some mistakes that come along the way. His resumé has some very face-palm worthy turnovers that can be attributed to his lack of awareness to pressure. The pace of the game seemed to quick for him at times, leading to those costly turnovers. Adding onto that is how weak he is on the puck. Barton is a skinny kid who gets knock off the puck too easily and it shows. He’ll need to put on some weight, and hopefully had a good summer in the gym.
Barton’s skating doesn’t blow you away, having just average speed for his size. Because of that you don’t see to many plays he creates with his feet, which in turn limits how dynamic of a player he can be. That also plays a role in the trouble he has when dealing with pressure. You will at times see him push the puck up ice himself when the space is there, but he isn’t creating that space.
Note: Barton is number 27 in the above video
When defending the puck there are some noticeable plays he makes. He plays with an active stick and has the ideal gap control. While defending against the top players with speed through the neutral zone he doesn’t panic.
The sense I get from Barton is he has a real chance to become an NHL player. It will take time for him to mature and grow as a player, but I see someone with a pro frame, the ability to move the puck and defend. There isn’t enough flash or creation of space in his game to say he has legitimate top-4 potential, but there is enough there to envision him serving as top-6 blue-liner one day.
That doesn’t sound like much, but in the scouting world that can mean a lot.