It didn’t take that long before Trail Smoke Eaters defenceman Seth Barton’s name was called on Saturday at the NHL Draft in Dallas.
After Friday’s highly anticipated first round, Saturday saw 31 NHL teams select players for Rounds 2 to 7. And just 50 picks in, the Detroit Red Wings drafted the six-foot-two, 175-pound Barton as a third round selection and 81st overall.
“I am thrilled and excited to be going to the Detroit Red Wings organization,” Barton told NGSC Sports. “An original six team that has a history of winning and in particular, for me, of developing high-quality defencemen that have gone on to have long successful NHL careers.”
In Barton’s first year in the BCHL, the 18-year-old Kelowna product racked up 33 points in 49 games for the Smoke Eaters, in addition to playing in the World Junior A Challenge (WJAC) and the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s Top Prospects game, capping it off with an invitation to Buffalo for the NHL Draft Combine earlier this month.
Smokies director of hockey operations Craig Clare helped recruit the young product from the Okanagan Rockets of the BC Major Midget League and watched Barton progress throughout the Smokies season, including a stellar playoff where he contributed three goals and 11 points in 16 games on the way to the BCHL semifinal.
“Early on he was fantastic, he came in and did more than we even expected,” said Clare. “I felt he came back with even more confidence after he came back from the Junior A Challenge … once he returned, he played with a different kind of swagger.”
For the first time in Smoke Eaters history, the revitalized team served up back-to-back NHL Draft picks with Barton’s third round selection coming a year after teammate Kale Howarth went in the fifth round to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
“I was excited for him,” said Clare. “He had such a great season, and I think going that high also speaks to his character. I’m sure he had some great energy with some NHL clubs, and not only the play he had on the ice, he’s even a better person, which spoke to how high he went.”
NHL Central Scouting ranked Barton 81st in its mid-term rankings, before dropping him to 94th in its year end summary. Scouting service, Red Line Report, also ranked Barton 81st and billed him as a, “Big, strong, solid defensive blue-liner capable of performing a shutdown role.”
For Red Wings director of amateur scouting Tyler Wright, Barton possesses the qualities that eventually will make him a big-league defenceman.
“Another late bloomer type defenceman,” Wright told the Detroit News. “Very good skater. Good size, good puck moving defenceman. He just kind of fits that bill again. We were pretty confident that with the three thirds that we were going to be able to target some guys. Ultimately they were there.”
As a third-round pick, the 18-year-old Barton is the highest Smoke Eater to go in the draft, and will be attending University of Massachusetts-Lowell this season. He is also the highest UMass-Lowell draft pick since defenceman Ron Hainsey was selected by the Montreal Canadiens with the 13th pick in the first round in the 2000 NHL Draft.
“On top of the high of being selected at the NHL entry draft, I am pumped about starting my college hockey career this season with the UMass-Lowell River Hawks,” said Barton. “I felt the NCAA college hockey route was the best choice for me in terms of obtaining an education and long-term hockey development. Coach Norm Bazin and the River Hawks run a top quality program that I feel is designed to provide the elite level of skill and physical development that will enable me to become a professional NHL player.”
Barton’s continued development in the NCAA will be a determing factor in how far he’ll advance, yet if he maintains the same work ethic and dedication he has shown throughout his time in Trail, Clare is confident the young blueliner will make the grade.
“He’s very thankful for his development time here in Trail, he’s a great kid in the community, and very humble. And he’s doing all the right things to give himself the best opportunity to have a long career in pro hockey.”
**The Red Wings scored arguably one of the best drafts of any NHL team nabbing Czech Republic native Filip Zadina and Canadian Joseph Veleno in the first round. Zadina, a Halifax Mooseheads forward, was expected to go top 3, and Detroit was surprised that he was still around in the sixth spot. Zadina led all rookies in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with 82 points (44 goals, 38 assists).
Then at No. 30, the Red Wings selected skilled, hardworking center Veleno from the Drummondville Voltigeurs, a player expected to go in the top-15.
Detroit picked Swedish right-winger Jonatan Berggren as its first pick of Round 2 (No. 33), then selected a trio of blueliners with their next three picks, including Jared McIsaac (No.36) also from the Mooseheads, Alex Regula of the London Knights at number 67, and Barton with their 81st selection.
The Wings added Swedish goalie Jesper Eliasson with pick number 84 and Dallas product Ryan O’Reilly, selected in the fourth round at No. 98. In Round 6 they picked another Swedish goalie in six-foot-five Victor Brattstrom and left winger Otto Kivenmaki of the SM-liiga in the final round.
See more on BCHL draft selections on Pg. 9.