2023 NHL Draft Profile: Colby Barlow

Photo: Luke Durda/OHL Images

The 2023 NHL Draft class is one of the deepest draft classes in recent memory. The class is highlighted by Connor Bedard, a 17-year-old generational talent that has made headlines all season long. He is most likely going to be the newest member of the Chicago Blackhawks, who won the draft lottery on Monday.

The Washington Capitals stayed put at the eighth selection. This is the Capitals’ first top-10 selection since 2007, when they drafted Karl Alzner with the fifth overall selection. In the run-up to the draft on June 28 we will be presenting player profiles of the top players available in this year’s draft.


Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan should only be looking at forwards. In particular, forwards that are elite goal scorers. Washington’s biggest struggle in the 2022-23 season was scoring. They were 20th in the NHL with 3.09 goals per game.

While the Caps do have strong forwards in Hershey right now, with guys like Connor McMichael, Joe Snively and Hendrix Lapierre, none have proven to be pure snipers.

Mock drafts have the Capitals selecting Slovakian center Dalibor Dvorsky. Dvorsky is a sleek playmaker that is excellent with the puck and wins lots of puck battles. The 6-foot-1 forward had 13 points (eight goals, five assists) in seven games at the U18 Worlds.

With the uncertain future of Evgeny Kuzentsov, Washington could pull the trigger on Dvorsky and have him compete for a top-6 role. This would probably be the safe pick.

However, one player that MacLellan and his staff should take a hard look at is Owen Sound Attack captain Colby Barlow.

Barlow was ranked 12th by NHL Central Scouting among North American skaters. However, the Orillia, Ontario native, is by far one of the best pure snipers in the draft. The 18-year-old racked up 79 points (46 goals, 33 assists) with the Sound Attack this season. His 46 goals were fifth in the OHL andthe fifth most goals in the whole 2023 draft class.

Last year Barlow was named to the OHL First All-Rookie team, where he put up 47 points (30 goals, 17 assists) in 57 games with the Sound Attack. The 6-foot-1 winger also led Team Canada to a gold medal at the Gretzky/Hlinka tournament this season.

Barlow’s shot is what makes him an attractive selection. His release is so quick and his shot is deadly accurate. He knows how to pick corners from just about anywhere and has a wicked one-timer.

The left-winger is also not afraid to sacrifice the body on the penalty kill and is terrific on the forecheck. It is rare for elite goal scorers to be committed in their own end as much as Barlow has throughout his career.

The big area of improvement needed for Barlow is his skating ability. He struggles on his edges and struggles to generate speed at times. However, Barlow is exactly the type of player Washington needs right now. A 200-foot goal scorer that can shoot from anywhere. He has not been talked about enough and is one of the most underrated prospects in the upcoming draft.



Cory Pronman (20th Overall)

Barlow is a well-rounded winger. He is a strong skater who can transport pucks through the neutral zone. He’s a hard-working forward who has some physicality, can kill penalties, and is quite physically advanced for his age. Offensively he has excellent stick skills and a great shot. He’s a threat to score off the rush and from a standstill with his one-timer. Barlow’s playmaking isn’t his selling point, but it’s good enough, especially with how skilled he is at creating scoring opportunities for himself. He projects as a high-in-the-lineup wing who can play on both special teams in the NHL.

Bob McKenzie (8th overall)

The Owen Sound Attack captain has a big-time shot and effectively uses his sturdy frame in the corners, on the wall and in front of the net to play a prototypical pro goal-scoring winger game. He has great leadership and intangibles, but also happens to be one of the draft’s better goal scorers.

Scott Wheeler (17th overall)

Barlow plays a direct, intentional game built around great hands, a physically mature pro frame, and an NHL shot (he can cleanly beat goalies from midrange). He’s also an able penalty killer, which should give him all-situations upside at the next level. He has a high floor and should safely become a strong third-line player but also has the upside to become more if things really click in his north-south game at the next level. Still, though he is a dominant junior player, it’s also fair to ask if his advanced growth gives him less runway for improvement (he really does look like a man already). He’s also not fast despite his strength, although he has made progress in his skating and does at times look powerful in straight lines once he builds speed (he moves just fine through his crossovers and can build speed and momentum that way, but he is sluggish from a standstill). I would like to see him tunnel-vision a little less and open up his plane of sight a little more. Even though he can score on them, he takes low-percentage shots a little too much for my liking off the rush (maybe because he feels he can’t take the D one-on-one so he shoots through them instead?).


  • NHL Central Scouting: 12th (among NA skaters)
  • Future Considerations: 16th
  • Elite Prospects: 20th
  • Bob McKenzie’s Rankings: 8th

By Jacob Cheris

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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12 Responses to 2023 NHL Draft Profile: Colby Barlow

  1. Anonymous says:

    Filthy shot for an 18 yo

  2. Prevent Defense says:

    Thank you Jacob for this fine analysis

    The Caps were sub-par at many things this season. The most painful for me to watch was their maddening inability to score goals — to “finish” as the industry calls it.

    Let’s draft some “finishers.” “Can’t skate too well” and “sluggish from a standstill” reminds me of a long-lost Cap named Andrew Brunette. Bruno could score at a time when the Caps were “scoring challenged.” Ticked me off that GMP jettisoned Brunette at first opportunity, because he “couldn’t skate”

    As NYI Coach Arbor said about Mike Bossy: Defending can be taught. Scoring is God-given. Give me Bossy and I’ll take care of the rest.

    Caps need scoring and finishers

    • Jacob Cheris says:

      Thank you very much! That means a lot!

    • redLitYogi says:

      good points. Looking at the video, those goals are mighty impressive. Jason Robertson is no great skater for the Stars but he’s become a premier player because he can snipe. Maybe Barlow is worth a look.

      • Anonymous says:

        Ultimately, I don’t think the Caps take him. But I wanted to give this kid attention because he has not been talked about enough. Brian MacLellan should heavily consider pulling the trigger on this guy and it won’t be a bad pick whatsoever. And in watching the Caps this year, scoring was the big issue. In a draft this deep, and an aging core, why not get a high-end goal scorer now.

      • Jacob Cheris says:

        Thanks! Ultimately, I don’t think the Caps take him. However, I felt this kid was not getting enough attention. In watching the Caps this year, this biggest problem was scoring. With an aging core, and a team trying to get younger, why not pull the trigger on this guy? Brian MacLellan should heavily consider Barlow. In watching more film, his skating isn’t terrible but it’s not what makes him standout. he’s an above average skater. I think he would be a perfect fit.

  3. Dave says:

    Granted these are just short clips, and highlights (not lowlights) and granted it’s against junior competition, but his skating looked fine to me. Based on some of the reviews, I was expecting to see a sluggish, poor skater (of course, Robitaille did just fine that way).

    And his shot looked veritably* Ovi-ish, both the one-timer from the “office across the hall” and his ability to snipe with the wrister!

    *SAT word

  4. GRin430 says:

    He’s not Russian, or Swedish, or a Russian who lived in Sweden, or a Canadian (or Russian or Belorusian or Swede) who played in the WHL. So the probability of the Caps picking him is near zero, particularly after McMichael — their last 1st rounder from the OHL — didn’t turn out to be a superstar from day one. The only thing worse from the Caps’ management’s point of view would be if he was from Finland.

    And yes, I’m being sarcastic, but the Caps do have a “type”, and slow guys from the OHL aren’t generally on their list, unless they are picking really late in the first round, or not in the first round at all, and are just picking random names of 18-yr-old kids from one of Ovechkin’s surplus gloves.

    Okay Jon, show us the next guy on the list, and he’d better be from Russia, Sweden or the WHL… or all of the above… otherwise, fuggedaboutit, dey ain’t pickin’ ‘im 🙂

  5. redLitYogi says:

    love the quotes from Pronman, Wheeler, et al. Good work! Me, I don’t take Barlow. He reads like a later first rounder. If we were picking 18th, I’d be happy to get him. But in a draft this good, we should be looking to get a player who would ordinarily be a top 4 or 5 pick.

  6. Jon Sorensen says:

    Greetings folks! Just a quick note, if you haven’t done so already, please consider subscribing to NoVa Caps posts in the “subscribe” box located in the upper right corner. Thank you!

  7. jonicap says:

    Love Wheelers take. He’d be a great player to pick, as long as you understood what you were picking.

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