The U.S. National Team Development Program has churned out some instant stars in the past few years, and it’s easy to forget that it can’t always be like that. Sometimes there are just regular decent players instead of elite talents. That’s the case this year, as Evan Barratt, one of the programs top centres, is simply good, though not great. A reliable two-way forward that can play both centre and the wing with a penchant for playmaking, Barratt checks in at number 46 on our list.
- Age: 18 – February 18th, 1999
- Birthplace: Morrisville, PA, USA
- Frame: 5’11″ / 187 lbs
- Position: Centre
- Handedness: Left
- Draft Year Team: U.S. Nation Team Development Program
- Accomplishments/Awards: U18 WJC Gold Medal (16/17)
Cohort Based (pGPS)
Barratt is an offensive point producer who plays both ends of the ice. He’s an above-average skater, with a smooth stride that generates speed quickly and allows him to be dangerous in tight spaces. He’s agile on his edges and can cover a lot of ground side-to-side due to a strong lower half. He’s a talented puck handler who always has his head on a swivel, keeping track of the play and looking for open passing lanes. His vision is one of his most notable assets, as he is able to keep the puck-moving around the offensive zone quickly, often times with tough cross-ice passes and plays made under pressure. He is more of a playmaker than a shooter, and he passes up some good opportunities to shoot in favour of the pass on odd-man rushes or good looks at the net. He’s got good defensive awareness and understands the defensive responsibilities of a center, coming deep into the zone to support the puck and cover open lanes in the slot. He isn’t overly physical and can be pushed around when in control of the puck along the boards, but he doesn’t shy from physical play and his ability to cycle the puck well will only improve with increased strength. Barratt still has a few areas he needs to improve to become a scoring threat at higher levels, but the skating ability, two-way play, and ability to consistently create scoring chances with his vision are tough to teach.
From Corey Pronman of ESPN (Excerpt only – full article behind pay wall):
Barratt wasn’t the most leaned on player for the NTDP this season, but he was an important pivot for the team and stood out due to his skill and two-way play. He’s able to make a lot of tough offensive plays with the puck on his stick. He has soft hands in tight spaces and makes above-average passes seem routine. He’ll make soft touch plays, but he has the grit in his game to win battles and get to the net. Defensively, he plays his position fine and isn’t afraid to sacrifice the body.
From Ryan Wagman of McKeen’s Hockey (Excerpt only – full article behind pay wall):
His skill set is sometimes shielded by the roles doled out by the program’s coaching staff, as Barratt plays both left wing and center. Nonetheless, his skill set is nicely balanced and he shows the ability to handle any situation on the ice. A Penn State commit, he will likely need two-three seasons with the Nittany Lions, but will provide to which ever team that drafts him a solid, versatile middle six forward.
One of the better two-way forwards in the draft in terms of having a complete understanding of duties and responsibilities in the defensive zone. A Keystone Stater from Bristol, Barratt is headed to Penn State in the fall. He’s a very good playmaker who produces at both even strength and on the power play, but his speed, relentless forechecking and sticky fingers should land him a job at the highest level.
The U.S. National Team Development Program has had some extraordinary centres over the past few years, including Auston Matthews, Clayton Keller, and Jack Eichel. It’s not Evan Barratt’s fault that he doesn’t have the talent that those players have, but he is demonstrating that once again, the USNTDP is doing a fine job of churning out future NHL players. Barratt played both the middle and the wing this season, but spent the U18 tournament, in which he helped the U.S. squad win Gold, as the second line centre behind Joshua Norris.
Even though he was behind a similarly skilled prospect like Norris rather than an elite centre, Norris was still somewhat boxed into a specific role, as can be the case in that program. At even strength, his numbers were actually slightly better than Norris’, and during the USHL portion of the NTDP schedule, Barratt trailed only Andrei Svechnikov, a projected top 2 pick in 2018, in primary points per game at 5-on-5. In terms of overall points, his numbers against college and international competition were very similar to those against USHL teams.
Playmaking tends to be the focus of Barratt’s game, as his passing and vision are more impressive than his shot. Aware of this, Barratt tends to look for opportunities to make plays to teammates, even when shooting seems to be the better option.
More than just looking to create offence, Barratt is developing as a gritty two-way forward. His defensive play is solid, and he’s a diligent worker. He shows an affinity for the physical side of the game and doesn’t pass up an opportunity to grind defenders on the forecheck, but he doesn’t always have the requisite strength for it at this point. Bulking up will do wonders in this department, as the will is already there.
Barratt is heading to college next year and will likely spend a few seasons developing in the NCAA before making the transition to pro hockey. This route has proven more and more successful as the years pass by, as the NCAA programs are doing such a great job of preparing their players for the next step. Barratt might take an extra year in the AHL first, but it probably won’t be long after leaving school until he’s cemented himself in an NHL lineup, even if it’s as a middle six or depth player.