By JD Lagrange – Justin Barron was disappointed when, after training camp last year, he was sent down to the Laval Rocket of the AHL, to work on a few aspects of his game. Acquired in the trade which saw Artturi Lehkonen packing for Colorado, the Avs’ first round pick (25th overall) in 2020 had shown some good things the previous season and he thought that he would be getting a better chance in Montreal than with a stacked Avalanche team.
Since being called up on a heavily injury-riddled Canadiens’ team on time for the December 28th game in Tampa Bay, Barron has shown that his work down in Laval was starting to pay off at the NHL level. The 6-foot 2-inches, 201 lbs right-handed defenseman managed 15 points in the 39 games that he has played since being called up and only Mike Matheson had more points than the young defenseman from the blue line. Surprisingly enough, only three of those points were obtained on the power play, an area where Barron can certainly get better with age and experience.
He had improved on his positioning in his own zone, and was making better decisions with the puck as well. Only Matheson and Johnathan Kovacevic had a better plus-minus rating than Barron since his call-up.
Barron, who will turn 22 years of age in November – young for a defenseman – is often the ‘forgotten one’ when we see media members and bloggers on the web. Some even go as far as relegating him to Laval once again.
With Logan Mailloux turning pro this year, and with the Canadiens acquiring 24 year-old right-handed defenseman Gustav Lindström in the Jeff Petry trade from the Detroit Red Wings, the competition promisses to be fierce at camp for a spot on the Canadiens’ right side of the defense. In addition to Lindström and Mailloux, you also have to contend (and beat) the likes of David Savard, Johnathan Kovacevic and Chris Wideman.
And that’s not counting on a potential surprise, as the Canadiens’ fifth overall pick at this past NHL Draft, David Reinbacher, will also try to cause a surprise, taking part in his first NHL training camp.
Rest assured that Barron is a smart cookie and that he knows all of that. He will remember what happened at training camp a year ago and he will have put the efforts during his summer training to ensure that the same situation doesn’t happen again. Those pencilling Barron in as a starting in Laval in October might be surprised as I personally fully expect to see a more mature and improved young man, one who could even earn a spot on the Canadiens’ top-4 when the puck drops on this new season.