Just when you thought the Colorado Avalanche had enough young defensemen, here comes Justin Barron. The 2020 first-round pick has signed his three-year entry-level contract with the Avalanche after a strong (albeit shortened) season in the QMJHL. Barron will report to the Colorado Eagles immediately.
When the Avalanche took to the (virtual) podium last October to make their first-round selection, many expected them to go with a forward. The team already had names like Samuel Girard and Cale Makar leading the way in the NHL, with Bowen Byram set to debut soon enough and Conor Timmins working his way back from injury. But instead of drafting for organizational need, the Avalanche went with the player they deemed the best available, a right-handed defenseman from the Halifax Mooseheads.
Soon after, concern emerged over Barron’s future as he was diagnosed with a blood clot. The Mooseheads announced he would be out indefinitely, but after missing some time, he received a clean bill of health. Barron would join Canada at the World Juniors and captain Halifax this year, scoring 31 points in 33 QMJHL games. The 6’2″ defenseman doesn’t have the offensive upside of someone like Byram, but is a rock-solid two-way option that you can rely on to eat big minutes in all situations.
That kind of style could make him a perfect fit on the Avalanche in the coming years, who will have more than enough offense generated from their other young guns. Barron will turn 20 in November and should climb the depth chart quickly once he jumps into professional hockey.