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The Calgary Flames could have a chance at a mature, scoring machine at 16th overall

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Photo credit:Luke Durda/OHL Images
Jeff Middleton
8 months ago
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Lots of the forward prospects in the 2023 NHL Draft have a trait that is going to differentiate them from the other skaters. For some, it’s their slick hands; for others, it’s their ability to push the pace of play in transition and move about the offensive zone with and without the puck. In this particular player’s case, it’s his wicked shot.
Let’s talk about a very realistic target for the Calgary Flames at 16th overall: Colby Barlow.

Scouting report

Wherever you go, it will be hard to find a consensus on Barlow in the rankings (as it is for plenty of forwards in this draft). However, his shot, among other things, has helped push him to a firm spot in the first round. Standing at 6-foot-1 and weighing in at 187 pounds as an 18-year-old, the young forward not only has obvious strength in how the puck launches off his stick, but he also plays a strong game in general. He uses his body to separate opponents from the puck; he’s not afraid to get in on the forecheck, although that part of his game could be refined some more, and, well, he also looks way older than he actually is.
Barlow leads by example, too, both through his play and through his influence in leadership positions. He wore the ‘C’ for the Owen Sound Attack in the OHL and an ‘A’ for Team Canada’s Under-18 team. It’s not often players get these kinds of leadership roles at his age, and that’s something important to acknowledge as well.
Mitch Brown of Elite Prospects had this to say on the forward: “Barlow’s path to the NHL is pretty straightforward. He’s an NHL shooter. Hit the post twice from sharp angles. Adaptable release, firing from tricky positions while pressured. Creates a bit of space for his shot, but his pass receptions aren’t always clear, which limits some of his effectiveness. At least a 6.5 shooter. He’s not a playmaker, but he has play-building skills.”

The numbers

No matter where Barlow has gone, he scores. In 2021-22, he joined the Owen Sound Attack as a 17-year-old and scored 30 goals with 17 assists for 47 points in 59 games. Not over a point per game, but for a kid that young to be scoring that much is incredible, and he only got better this past year.
As the captain of the team in 2022-23, Barlow scored 46 goals and 33 assists for a total of 79 points in 59 games. His 46 goals sat fifth overall in the entire league. Three of the players that sat in front of him have already been drafted by teams and are 20 years old, a full two years older than the 2023 NHL Draft prospect. Yeah, that will play. He also scored three goals and tallied one assist for four points in six U-18 tournament games.

Availability and fit

Barlow seems to be a player that plenty of general managers will want to take a look at selecting. He’s the stereotypical “hockey man” player. He has a good frame with a solid height and weight that can be worked with. Although his physicality isn’t as good as it probably should be, that’s something NHL and AHL coaches can work on with him. And even though he isn’t a super creative player, he’s willing to go to the front of the net and hunt for rebounds while also utilizing his shot from tough angles and on the power play.
There have been plenty of crazier things to happen than someone like Barlow, who is ranked all over the place in the first round (some scouts have him in the top 10, and others have him within the range of the Flames), dropping lower than some might expect him to go for a number of reasons, and even though he doesn’t entirely fit the “speed and agility” mold that Craig Conroy has mentioned after coming in as the new general manager, it would be no surprise at all to see him be a player that can learn those things and adjust quickly. Overall, he’s a mature player, and if he’s still on the board at 16, the Flames should seriously consider snagging him.

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