Cornell left wing Morgan Barron, a sixth-round pick of the Rangers in 2017, was named one of the 10 finalists for the 2020 Hobey Baker Memorial Award honoring college hockey’s top player.
College Player of the Year Finalist
Barron, a junior who turned 21 in December, also is the first Cornell forward to make the ECAC’s First All-Star Team in consecutive seasons since Hockey Hall-of-Famer Joe Nieuwendyk did so in 1986 and 1987.
A big-bodied forward and team captain who plays a 200-foot game, Barron led the Big Red in scoring in each of the last two seasons. This season, the Halifax, Nova Scotia native posted team highs in goals (14) and points (32), and his 103 shots were 37 more than his closest teammate.
Per the official Hobey Baker website, the final three finalists will be announced April 2. The winner will be announced April 10.
Barron is a prolific shooter with an excellent shot and is an all-around good decision maker. The ECAC traditionally is a low-scoring league, so the fact that he was a leading scorer for a strong program atop the Division I rankings bodes well for his college production to translate to AHL success. Barron isn’t a fast skater in the traditional sense, but his first step and open-ice acceleration are impressive for a forward listed at 6-foot-3 and 217 pounds. He has deceptive agility in tight spaces and his balance is excellent, especially when entering the zone with speed or shielding the puck and taking direct routes to the goal.
Barron is a dual threat who can play center or wing. He can hammer pucks off the pass with accuracy but also display hawk-like vision and accurate passing skills through traffic when running the power play from the half wall. He spent the entire season on Cornell’s top line and showed less of a shoot-first mentality in his junior season than the year before. Barron kills penalties and can take (and win) big defensive-zone faceoffs if necessary.
His younger brother Justin plays for the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads and is considered one of the top defense prospects for 2020 NHL draft.
The Rangers did well by scooping up Barron late in the 2017 draft, especially when you consider he can play multiple forward positions and how spotty their drafting of forwards had been between 2014 and 2017. Of the 16 forwards the Blueshirts drafted in that span, only Filip Chytil and Lias Andersson have an NHL goal to their credit, with Chytil to date being the only official roster player.
Andersson’s retreat to Sweden and the rather thin (and aging) group of centermen in Hartford could be enough to entice an Ivy Leaguer like Barron to forego his senior season in Ithaca and sign an entry-level deal. It’s conceivable to see both Barron and recent signee Patrick Khodorenko as two of the Pack’s top-three centers for 2020-21. Both Barron and Khodorenko have played center and wing in both junior hockey and in college, with Barron spending most of this season at left wing.