The St. Louis Blues are constantly looking to add depth throughout their roster. Given possible free agent departures, strengthening their blue line in the minors might be wise.
The St. Louis Blues are trying to take one thing at a time, but they may have to take current events into account when planning for the future. If you don’t know what that means, they might need to draft a defenseman because they could lose one, or potentially two, key defenders in free agency.
Of course, defenders are not usually ready for the NHL right away. Nevertheless, if there is any danger of having a certain position depleted, the Blues need to be on the lookout to restock it. They are slightly thin in defensive prospects anyway.
So, who are some of the defenders that might fit the bill when it comes to what the Blues need? Our friends over at St. Louis Game Time came up with a pretty good suggestion.
One name the Blues should look into is Justin Barron. Barron is a right-handed defenseman with decent size and room to get bigger and stronger.
He is currently listed at 6’2 and 187. However, he’s just 18, so there is plenty of time to put more meat on that frame if need be.
The appeal of Barron is that he excels in all three phases of the game, which is what the Blues try to focus on. St. Louis has enough offensive defensemen on their NHL roster and in their system. Having a player with a little more defensive acumen would be beneficial.
Good footwork keeps you on your toes. That puts you in good positions defensively and in a better spot to transition onto the offensive end.
As Gabriel Foley pointed out on Game Time, Barron has a high hockey IQ. He sees plays well defensively, shutting things down before they get dangerous. The way he sees the game also allows him to either jump into the rush with his teammates or throw the stretch pass to spring a rush without him.
Barron would likely be a higher ranked prospect, but he was limited to just 34 games in 2019-20. Some of that was due to the pandemic shutdown, but the playing time was limited due to a blood clot as well.
The limited time this past season has caused a varied scout ranking. Barron ranks as high as 23 by ISS Hockey and 24 by TSN’s Bob McKenzie. He’s also as low as the 71st prospect by EliteProspects and 54th by McKeen’s Hockey.
The Blues don’t currently have a second round pick in 2020. So, St. Louis would need to decide whether Barron would fit with a first pick.
We do not currently know when that pick will occur. It would be somewhere in the mid-teens, most likely.
Barron does not put up eye-popping offensive numbers, but as already mentioned, the Blues have enough guys in the system that can do that. They need balance.
Barron could easily slide into an NHL role sooner rather than later. He has the overall skills to be the next Joel Edmundson or Parayko.
We don’t yet know how that will translate to the next level, but he could be one of those guys that gets a look and never looks back. The only drawback in that aspect is mentality.
Barron was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He’s never left the area, playing all his hockey in Halifax, including his junior hockey with the Halifax Mooseheads. It might be culture shock to suddenly play somewhere else.
Even with that in mind, Barron is a solid pick, should the Blues want to go that way.