Connor Bedard to the Chicago Blackhawks was maybe the least amount of analysis I’ve ever had to do before making a pick. I’m the guy before fantasy sports drafts who has the charts, notes, and advanced metrics to help destroy any cognitive dissonance. Especially when a collection of talent is suddenly available when you weren’t expecting it.
Or so I’d like to think. As I wrote in the short blurb prior to the unveiling of our Hockey Now Mock Draft, I couldn’t believe that Barlow fell to 19. When Bob McKenzie’s final prospect rankings came out, he was ranked 12th and even garnered a top-ten vote in McKenzie’s process. Colleague Craig Button had him going ninth to Detroit in his mock draft, which leads me to believe that Barlow will be an afterthought by the time Chicago picks at 19.
Why Colby Barlow at 19?
I know there are a lot of Blackhawks fans who have been underwhelmed by general manager Kyle Davidson’s work so far. I can understand that as it’s been a long road of frustration and disappointment for a fan base that saw three Stanley Cups in six years.
And then nothing–going on almost a decade now. But Davidson is trying to do a full reset, from a teardown of the previous foundation to bringing in prospects who are going to infuse Chicago with talent and leadership. Davidson has been at the helm for less than two years–he’ll still need time to implement his vision.
So Barlow, who is the captain of the Owen Sound Attack, led them in scoring. If you watch video of him, he looks like a man among boys. Between the full playoff looking beard to his bulky frame, he seems all but ready made for the NHL. His 46 goals were good for fifth in the league and he did it in just 59 games.
He isn’t going to blow anyone away with his skating, but he will lug the puck up the ice and be ready for the chance to bury the timely goal. At 6’5, his quick release and ability to pick the net apart seems like an awfully reassuring prospect with Bedard leading the top line.
Barlow may or may not be a top line forward paired with him. But he reminds me of a more physical version of former Detroit Red Wings forward Johan Franzen.
When the puck finds his stick, it will find its way next into the net.
Was Barlow the Pick All Along?
No. In fact, I had him third on my list with Gabe Perreault and also Ryan Leonard being higher. I was not delusional in thinking either would be available, and I even argue that the Blackhawks should try and trade up to grab Leonard if he somehow falls out of the top ten.
Perreault fell to 15 in our Mock Draft, which then made Barlow my choice at nineteen.
Barlow is hardly a consolation prize. In fact, I was utterly shocked he fell to 19. A glance at the aggregate of rankings has him scattered from eighth all the way to a late first round pick. Barlow’s ceiling isn’t as defined as perhaps it being pretty established that what you see is what you get with him. A hulking sniper who will score goals in bunches.
If the Blackhawks indeed stay at 19, it would be another gift from the 2023 NHL Draft to give them the chance at taking Barlow. Winning the lottery would be one thing. But having a crack at a scorer who could help bolster the Blackhawks attack would be an unexpected bonus.