(Photo: Washington Capitals)
Much excitement surrounds the fact that 21 year old forward Riley Barber will be playing with the Hershey Bears in the 2015-16 hockey season. Praised for his competitiveness and two-way skill, we finally get to see what he can accomplish at a pro level.
A 6th Round pick by the Capitals in 2012, the 6’0” 198lb, Michigan native decided to forego his senior year at Miami (Ohio) University and go pro, signing a 3 year entry level deal with the Washington Capitals in April of 2015. The deal is effective at the beginning of the 2015-16 season.
If you don’t follow Capital’s prospect development but feel like you have heard his name, you may recognize it from watching or hearing about him skate for USA in the World Junior Championship (WJC) in 2013 and 2014. In the 2013 WJC, Barber scored 3 goals and 3 assists and was +1 in seven games helping USA to win Gold. In that competition the line of Riley Barber, Sean Kuraly (Miami teammate and 2011 5th rnd pick by San Jose) and Alex Galchenyuk (Montreal Canadien), did some damage. In the 2014 WJC, USA placed 5th with Barber named as the USA’s Captain and scoring 4 goals and 2 assists and was +1 in 5 games.
In his time with the Miami RedHawks, Barber averaged over a point per game. In 116 games played, Barber totaled 54 goals and 69 assists for a 123 points and 62 PIM. As a freshman (2012-13) and a Sophomore (2013-14), he finished 2nd in team scoring with 15 goals and 24 assists and a +12 rating in 40 games played and 19 goals and 25 assists in 38 games played. As a junior, he finished with 20 goals (Career high) and 20 assists in 38 games but suffered a lower-body injury that kept him out of the playoffs.
Before the start of the 2014-15 season, NHL.com ranked Barber the 48th best prospect overall (not bad for being drafted 167th in 12’.) He’s considered a great two-way forward with strong offensive instincts. The level of competitiveness and experience of playing in high pressure games has most believing he will transition smoothly to the pro level but he will have to prove that next season. At 21 years old he has some more time to develop but I’d expect that because of Barber’s style of play we could see him excel in a Trotz system sooner than expected. He joins a young and skilled Hershey Bears squad that has me itching to schedule a few road trips to Hershey, Pennsylvania next season. But first let’s check him out at the Capitals Development Camp.
By: Zach Hart