Washington Capitals Prospect Review and Forecast: Riley Barber

With the 2018 NHL Entry Draft now in our rear view mirrors, we are breaking-down the last 12 months for each of the Washington Capitals prospects and provide a forecast for the coming season. We continue this series of reports with a review and forecast for Riley Barber.  (You can access all of our Capitals Prospect Reports and player analysis on our “Prospects” page right here.) 

Coming off another season hampered by an injury, the 2018-19 season will be an important one in the career of winger Riley Barber.

CONTRACT
Barber just finished his three-year rookie contract. The Capitals qualified him on June 25. A contract still has to be finalized.

CAREER
Riley Barber (24) was drafted by Washington in the Sixth Round, 167th overall, of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. He spent three seasons playing at the collegiate level for the Miami Redhawks before signing with the Capitals organization following the 2014-15 NCAA season.

Barber made an immediate impact in the AHL, helping the Bears win the Atlantic Division by posting 26 goals and 29 assists as a rookie during the 2015-16 season. He also appeared in 17 playoff games as Hershey advanced to the Calder Cup Finals.

The Pittsburgh native netted 13 points in the first 13 games of his sophomore campaign, but then went down with a hand injury. He would miss three months due to the hand injury. He ended the season with 13 goals and 14 assists in 39 games.

For his career, Barber has appeared in three NHL games, all last season, and has not recorded a point. The winger has tallied 59 goals and added 61 assists in 173 AHL games.

2017-18 SEASON SUMMARY
Riley Barber played in 60 games for Hershey, but had his season cut short by a season-ending shoulder injury that he suffered in a game at Syracuse on March 9. It was bad timing for Barber, as he was playing his best hockey of the season. He potted seven goals and chipped in with four assists in February. He was creating a lot of scoring chances and was Hershey’s best offensive threat at the time of his injury.

Despite missing the last month of the season, Barber still led the team in goals with 20 and in power play goals with 10. His 38 points were the fourth most on the team.

2017-2018 MONTH-BY-MONTH RECAP AND TREND ANALYSIS
The following is a compilation of our month-by-month prospect reports for Riley Barber during the 2017-2018 season.

October
Barber had a fantastic rookie year and was hoping to improve upon it last season, but was met with a huge injury and was only able to play 39 games. In nine games this season, he has one goal and three assists. Certainly not great, but there’s some things to consider. First, Barber has 29 shots on goal in nine games and only one goal to show for it, so it sounds like he’s been a bit unlucky. One has to think he’s about to burst out and start putting up some numbers. Another note about his shot totals is he’s on pace to hit 243 shots in a 76-game season. Last year’s highest shot total in the AHL was 232. Too small of a sample size to say that will happen, but a good sign nonetheless. Another reason why he might be struggling points-wise is he has John Albert as his center. No offense to Albert, but he isn’t exactly a Travis Boyd. Either way, look for Barber to improve his game and hopefully get some NHL games this season.

November
Barber just can’t buy a break this season. With only five goals and six assists in 21 games played, he’s averaging his lowest point per game in a season. But it isn’t his effort that’s the problem. He’s still his old self: a fast two-way player that grinds to get to the slot to fire off his quick shot. A big issue is his line-mates. There’s nothing wrong with Jeremy Langlois, but he isn’t a Travis Boyd or Chandler Stephenson. Even still, Barber is playing way better than his stats suggest. He’s actually eighth in the league in shots with 61 and he’s increased his shots per game stat every season he’s played: 2.2, 2.6, and this season, has 2.9 shots per game. If he was shooting at his percentage over the last two seasons, he’d have almost four more goals. So he’s doing the right things, but just isn’t getting the results. Barber should have a better December.

December
Barber continues strong play at the AHL and remains one of the top forward prospects for the Capitals. Barber registered three goals and five assists in 14 games in December, giving him nine goals and 11 assists in 35 games this season. Barber scored his 100th AHL point on December 23 against Binghamton. Alternating linemates are testing Barber’s ability to adapt to varying players styles and games, and will be key to his success during the remainder of the season.

January
Barber started the month of January off great with three goals and one assist in the first four games, but like the rest of the Bears, he went cold after that. He has zero points in the last six games. He does, however, have 20 shots in the those six games. To me, Barber is the embodiment of the Bears this season: just can’t buy a goal.

February
Barber started the month of January off great with three goals and one assist in the first four games, but like the rest of the Bears, he went cold after that. He has zero points in the last six games. He does, however, have 20 shots in the those six games. To me, Barber is the embodiment of the Bears this season: just can’t buy a goal.

March
Barber was on fire in February. He tallied eight goals and five assists in the month. He started March off well with a goal and two assists in his first three games in the month. Then, Barber suffered a shoulder injury in a game at Syracuse on March 9. The injury turned out to be season-ending. Barber was really coming into his own as an offensive player prior to the injury. He was Hershey’s best offensive player at the time. Now, he must heal his shoulder and try to pick his momentum back up in training camp. Barber totaled 20 goals and 18 assists in 60 games played this season. Even with the injury, Barber still leads the Bears in shots with 178 for a 11.2 shooting percentage. At 24, next year will be huge for Barber as he is quickly approaching a crossroads with regards to making the final leap to the Capitals. Barber is a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

PLAYER FORECAST
Barber was trending in the right direction prior to his shoulder injury. He was becoming a serious offensive threat. The shoulder injury stopped that. Now, he has to try and recapture that momentum heading into the season. Barber is unlikely to make the Capitals out of training camp. However, he can make an impression on the coaching staff. If he can re-find his scoring touch quickly, the winger will put himself in the position to be the first forward recalled.

Barber has shown that he can be a scoring threat. He needs to be a little more consistent on a month-to-month basis. He had two goals in his first 16 games, but then scored seven goals in 11 games in February. He also creates plenty of chances and gets a lot of shots. Barber took 178 shots last season and scored on 20 of them. He needs to bury more of his shots. He also needs to stay healthy

If Barber can be more consistent and put home more of his scoring chances, he will give Hershey a true goal-scoring threat (something they severely lacked this past season). He could easily score 30-35 goals. Obviously, he also needs to avoid the injury bug to accomplish become that threat.  If Barber can do that, it will give the Capitals a reason to give him a serious look at the NHL level. If he fails to finish and/or cannot stay healthy, Barber’s days in the Washington organization could be number. The 2018-19 season is a significant one for Riley Barber.

HIGHLIGHTS

PREVIOUS PLAYERS:
Pheonix Copley
Ilya-samsonov

By Eric Lord

About Eric Lord

Eric has been a Hershey Bears fan since attending his 1st game at age 8. He has been a season-ticket holder since the 2009-10 season and has been writing about Hershey Bears hockey since 2012. His favorite Bears memory is the team's 1996-97 run to the Calder Cup Championship where Hershey was 5-0 when facing elimination. Eric graduated from Fordham University in 2000 with a bachelors in communication and from Iona College in 2005 with a Masters in Journalism. He is also a photographer and serves as an assistant soccer coach for the Pottsville Area High School girls soccer team.
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29 Responses to Washington Capitals Prospect Review and Forecast: Riley Barber

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  2. Jon Sorensen says:

    At age 24, this has to be Barber’s year.

    Like

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