2017-18 Team: Trail Smoke Eaters (#27)
Date of Birth: August 18, 1999
Place of Birth: Kelowna, British Columbia
Ht: 6’2″ Wt: 174 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2018 second-year eligible
- THW (Pike’s Picks): not in top 125 (final)
- Future Considerations: 96th (final)
- ISS: not in top 31 (final)
- Bob McKenzie: not in top 93 (final)
- Craig Button: not in top 100 (final)
The junior-A level of ice hockey has become a consistent provider of talented players over the last decade of National Hockey League drafts. However, the tendency has been for one high-end player from a few Canadian junior-A circuits to creep into the first couple rounds of the draft, with little fanfare or attention paid to the more under-the-radar prospects from those leagues. Case in point: defenseman Seth Barton from the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters, a second-year eligible player with promising offensive numbers in a good league.
An August 1999 birthday, Barton was one of the youngest players eligible for the 2017 NHL Draft – mid-September is the age cut-off. Since he spent the majority of that season with the midget Okanagan Rockets, despite his success at that level, he wasn’t selected. It’s difficult to project success in midget as a 17-year-old into success at higher levels. But he spent his 18-year-old season in the BCHL and had a productive season with 33 points through 49 games. The BCHL has a pretty solid record of successfully translating players from the junior-A level onto college and eventually the pros. Barton’s success in his second year of eligibility – one where he was just a smidge older than the oldest first-year eligible draft prospects – likely filled scouts with a bit of optimism regarding his pro aspirations.
Barton’s offensive game emerged in his first season in the BCHL, with him showing skill at puck distribution and the ability to finish with shots from the point. The obvious comparison to make is with fellow BCHL prospect Slava Demin: Demin’s eight months younger, played more games, scored more often and played a bigger role on a more successful team. That said, Barton’s a bit more raw with less experience against high-end talent and his showing at the World Junior-A Championship suggests that he can hang with strong players within his age group – the big question mark is how effectively he can defend against high-end attackers.
While scouts likely have more confidence in Barton’s upside due to his BCHL success in his second year of draft eligibility, the challenge for them will likely be projecting him when he has no major-junior experience and only the Junior-A Worlds to judge him on in terms of high-level competition. He’s committed to U-Mass Lowell for the 2019-20, so he’ll have a fairly long developmental runway. He’s a project and he’s still quite raw, but his BCHL success suggests that there’s something there to be developed offensively.
Seth Barton – NHL Draft Projection
Barton seems likely to be taken somewhere between the fifth and sixth rounds. He arguably doesn’t have the sample size against high-end talent to go much higher, but his BCHL results thus far suggest there’s some value there.
“He’s going to be a prototypical defenceman, a big guy, with a big frame. He’s still a young man, so I think a lot of NHL scouts and executive eyes are going to like the fact that he’s not fully developed. They’re going to have a project and a couple years to wait for him to develop in school.” – Jeff Tambellini, Trail Smoke Eaters head coach
- Good offensive zone awareness
- Good puck distributor
- Big, lanky frame
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Needs to keep developing his game away from the puck, particularly against fast players
- Needs to add muscle to his frame to withstand pro puck battles
- Could stand to shoot more and develop his shot
Other 2018 NHL Draft Profiles
Barton projects as a third pairing two-way defenseman.
Risk – 1/5, Reward – 3/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense 7.5/10, Defense 7.5/10
Barton represented Canada in the World Junior-A Championship, capturing a gold medal.
Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames and the NHL Draft extensively since 2010 as a Senior Writer for The Hockey Writers and Senior Contributing Editor of FlamesNation.ca. A member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, he lives in Calgary.