Denver Barkey – 2023 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

Denver Barkey

2022-23 Team: London Knights (OHL)
Date of Birth: April 27, 2005
Place of Birth: Newmarket, Ontario
Height: 5-foot-8, Weight: 174 pounds
Shoots: Left
Position: Centre
NHL Draft Eligibility: First-Year Eligible


Denver Barkey, a 5-foot-8 center with the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) London Knights, had a pretty good 2022-23 season. Central Scouting ranked him a ‘C’ grade on their preliminary players to watch list following a 15-point rookie season in 2021-22, and he posted 22 goals and 59 points in 61 games in his second season with the team, ranked third on the team in scoring. However, he didn’t stand out from the crowd, ranked 58th in points in the league. The scouts that did notice him saw an undersized center who had some clear offensive abilities but lacked strength and shied away from contact.

Denver Barkey London Knights
Denver Barkey, London Knights (Natalie Shaver/OHL Images)

But once the playoffs hit, Barkey became a new player. In the Knights’ opening series against the Owen Sound Attack, he scored twice and put up four assists, helping London sweep their opponent. Against the Kitchener Rangers in round two, he added four more goals and three more assists, giving him 13 points in nine games. By the time London reached the Final, he had 21 points in 15 games. Although the team couldn’t get past the Petes, Barkey finished with the fifth-most points and the fourth-highest goals in the OHL.

Related: The Hockey Writers’ 2023 NHL Draft Guide

Now scouts are paying attention, and they like what they see. His game is defined by shiftiness; when he has the puck, he’ll pull every trick in the book to shake opponents and create space. He uses crossovers effectively to generate strong lateral movement, and he can stop and start on a dime to catch a pursuer off-guard. The claim that he avoids contact isn’t entirely true; he thrives in tight spaces and high-danger areas, but he simply is too quick and agile to get hit most of the time.

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Barkey’s agility makes him a skilled puck carrier, but so does his awareness. No matter where he is, his head is always on a swivel, watching for passing lanes and open teammates as well as opportunities to score a goal. When an opportunity arises, no matter how fleeting, he’ll send a strong, accurate pass exactly where it needs to be. His awareness also helps him pick up on rebounds, which results in goals like the one below. His game is the definition of high tempo – he’s always moving, making sure he is in the right place at the right time, no matter the situation.

Looking back, there were signs that Barkey was going to pop off. In the regular season, only four other draft-eligible OHLers had more points per 60 than him, meaning he was scoring most often when he was playing 5-on-5. But what helped in the playoffs was his competitiveness. He wants to be a difference-maker, and as the season progressed, he developed a more well-rounded defensive game, using his agility and awareness to anticipate changes in possession, create turnovers, and play a strong transitional game. His breakout couldn’t have come at a better time, too, as he’s not considered one of the more promising options available in the second round.

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Denver Barkey – NHL Draft Projection

While some scouts will continue to focus on Barkey’s size and question whether he can handle in the NHL, it’s clear from his playoff performance that he has a refined toolkit that should not be underestimated. He will be one of the more interesting names to pay attention to on the second day of the draft, as he could end up in the 33-40 range or fall into the fourth round. Due to the timing of his breakout, it’s likely he ends up going higher than expected.


“Barkey reminds me a bit of Mats Zuccarello. He has the ability to navigate around pressure in every zone and can identify tight passing lanes to utilize on the fly. Barkey has a playbook full of tactics to get out of pressure and doesn’t hesitate. He executes.” – Josh Tessler, Smaht Scouting

“Barkey has a lot of things to like about his game. He has good skill and vision and he competes his butt off. He plays without fear and gets to the inside which is what you like to see from a smaller player. He’s a good skater, with strong speed and edgework and has shown in junior he can be a reliable two-way player. Whether the toolkit is dynamic enough at his size to be an NHL player, though, is up for debate but you love the way he plays.” – Corey Pronman, The Athletic (from ‘2023 NHL Draft ranking: Connor Bedard leads Corey Pronman’s tiers of the top 142 prospects, ‘The Athletic – 30/05/2023).

“Barkey has continued to be an incredibly fun, undersized forward who repeatedly plays like he’s twice his size. His playoff run with London so far has been stellar, as he has regularly made himself the focal point of his line with his forechecking and playmaking combination. A high-risk, high-reward bet with tantalizing potential.” – Hadi Kalakeche, Dobber Prospects


  • Skating
  • Competitiveness
  • Creativity

Under Construction – Improvements to Make

  • Strength
  • Defensive presence
  • Speed

NHL Potential

Barkey is still several years away from making an impact at the highest level. Even though he’s found success in the OHL, he will need to add strength to survive the grind of the NHL. Once he gets there, though, it depends on whether he can add another dimension to his speed. If he can develop a strong, powerful stride, he could become a dangerous middle-six center. However, he may find more success on the wing, and if developed properly, could end up in the top six.

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Risk-Reward Potential

Risk – 4/5, Reward – 4/5

Fantasy Hockey Potential

Offense – 7/10, Defense – 6/10


Denver Barkey Statistics