We continue breaking down the last 12 months for each of the Washington Capitals prospects with a review and forecast for forward/right winger, Riley Barber. (You can access all of our Capitals Prospect Reports and player analysis on our “Prospects” page right here.)
Barber, 25, is a 6’-0” right handed winger drafted by the Capitals in the sixth round (#167 overall) of the 2012 draft.
Barber is an unrestricted free agent, Group 6. (Group 6 players include “Any Player who is age 25 or older who has completed three (3) or more professional seasons, whose standard player contract has expired and: (i) in the case of a Player other than a goaltender, has played less than 80 NHL Games, or (ii) in the case of a goaltender, has played less than 28 NHL Games (for the purpose of this definition, a goaltender must have played a minimum of thirty (30) minutes in an NHL Game to register a game played).”A player who achieves Group 6 status is free to sign with any club, and any club is free to sign such player without any penalty or restriction, unlike players who are classified as a Restricted Free Agent.)
In other words, since Barber didn’t reach the minimum requirements, he will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1. He made $650,000 this past season on his one year deal with the Capitals.
Riley Barber was 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.
Barber played in 60 games for Hershey in 2017-2018, 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.
Barber has had a generally upward trajectory during his four campaigns in Chocolate Town, but injuries have been one of his major unfortunate occurrences in his four years with the Bears.
2018-2019 SEASON SUMMARY
Simply put, Barber had the year in his career this past season, registering 31 goals and 29 assists in 64 regular season games. He led the Bears in goals, was third on the team in assists, second on the Bears in power play goals (13). Barber added three goals and three assists in nine playoff games this spring.
Barber led the team in shots (232) by a big margin (Mike Sgarbossa was second on the team with 172), giving him a 13.3% shooting percentage on the season.
Barber was named the AHL player of the month for February.
2018-2019 MONTH-BY-MONTH RECAP AND TREND ANALYSIS
The following month-by-month breakdown is an aggregation of our monthly prospect reports prepared during the 2018-2019 season. You can find all of our monthly prospect reports on our “Prospects” page in the top menu.
This is a big season for Barber. He is coming off of two seasons hindered by serious injuries and needs to establish himself as a steady player. He has proven to be a steady goal scorer when healthy and Hershey is counting on him to provide goals this season. He led the Bears in goals last season with 20. Barber had three assists in five games, but then missed three straight due to a minor injury. He came back last week and scored his first two goals of the season over the weekend. His first tally of the season came shorthanded and tied the game for Hershey on Saturday against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He also scored the Bears’ first goal in the shootout. He then scored on a penalty shot on Sunday in third period in a 3-1 win over Lehigh Valley. The Pittsburgh native has shown the ability to get hot once he gets going and the two goals this past weekend could be the start of one of those streaks.
Barber has been on fire for the Bears in November. He has tallied five goals in the month and has also added four assists. He is tied with Mike Sgarbossa for the team scoring leadwith 14 points.He is tied for second on the team with seven goals. He also leads the team in power play goals with four. Barber also is one of the team’s top penalty killers. He gets a lot of time on the penalty kill unit and has been successful in that role. His discipline has helped him see time on the penalty kill, as he has only committed one minor penalty thismonth. He also deserves credit for helping lead a young forward group. The one area where Barber can improve, and this can be said for almost the entire Hershey team, is at even-strength. Barber has nine points this month, but is a minus-7 in November.
Barber is one of the few scorers the Bears have. He put home four goals in December and chipped in with six assists. His first goal of the month triggered Hershey’s record-setting Teddy Bear toss on December 2. He ranks second on the team in scoring with 24 points and assists with 13. His 11 goals are third on the team. He has been one of the few consistent offensive players that the team has. Barber, like most of the team, needs to produce more at even strength. Seven of his 11 goals and nine of his 13 assists have come on the power play. Still, the Bears would be in even further trouble on offense if not for Barber, as he along with Mike Sgarbossa and Liam O’Brien, are the focal points of the Hershey offense.
Barber remains one of Hershey’s top offensive players. He put home seven goals in January and chipped in with seven assists. The 14 points pushed his season total to 38, which is tied with Mike Sgarbossa for the team lead. He has matched his point total from last season. Barber tops the Bears with 22 power play points. He is tied with Sgarbossa for the most power play goals with nine and with Ness for most power play assists with 13. He had two game-winning goals in January to up his season total to four (tied for the team lead with Liam O’Brien). He was a plus-5 for the month after being minus-10 for the season through December. One area in which Barber can improve is accuracy with his shots. He has taken a team high 139 shots, but has only scored on 18 of them for a shooting percentage of 12.9. Barber is one of three Hershey players to play in all 44 games.
After being named the AHL Player of the Month in January, Barber picked up right where he left off in February. He netted eight goals in the month and also had three assists. He sits on top of the team scoring list with 49 points. He leads the team in goals with 26 and in power play points with 28. He also has the team lead in power play goals with 12. Barber’s 23 assists are third-most on the Bears. February is the fourth straight month that Barber has scored nine or more points. He scored the game-winning goal at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on February 22 with just under four minutes remaining, his team-leading sixth game-winner of the season. He then added an empty-netter for Hershey’s first hat trick of the season.
Barber’s career year continued in March. He netted five goals and added six assists during the month. His 31 goals lead Hershey and is a career-high and third in the American Hockey League (AHL), trailing the league leader by one goal. Barber also leads the Bears with 60 points, which is also a career-high, and is tied for eighth in the AHL in scoring. Barber also ranks sixth in the league in power-play goals with 15. The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native tops Hershey with 33 power play points and is third on the team with 29 assists. One more assist will set a new career-high in that category.
Barber indicated during the playoffs that he felt the Capitals have made it clear to him he is not in their future plans. If true, you can’t blame Barber for taking his game elsewhere, possibly to find a team with an easier path to a spot in the NHL. Detroit or Pittsburgh are my two wild ass guesses at this point, but again, if Team “A” has a spot with a chance to start for them in October, look for Barber to make that move.
Personally, as a Capitals and Bears fan, it would have been nice to have two more years with Barber, as we really don’t know what his ceiling is, since he had a career year last season. But as a Riley Barber fan, it seems like the right move, and I’ll continue pulling for him to find that perfect spot, with a shot at the “bigs”.
Capitals Re-Sign Riley Barber To One-Year Deal
Riley Barber Ignites Teddy Bear Toss
Capitals Re-call Riley Barber
Bears Brothers: Liam O’Brien and Riley Barber Find Lifelong Friendship With Hershey Bears (Part 1)
Bears Brothers: Liam O’Brien and Riley Barber Find Lifelong Friendship With Hershey Bears (Part 2)
With a Career Season in The AHL, What Does The Future Hold For Riley Barber?
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Riley Barber Named AHL Player Of The Month
By Jon Sorensen