Riley Barber against Brandon Anselmini of Ferris State. (Photo credit: Rachel Lewis / Triple Deke Photography)
It’s easy to be overlooked when you’re a sixth-round pick in the NHL draft. From 2000 to 2011, only one in five sixth-round selections ever suited up for a NHL game. But for Washington Capitals prospect Riley Barber, being the underdog seems to work in his favor.
After missing a 45-man Evaluation Camp roster in August, Barber, on Monday, was named to the United States’ preliminary 27-man roster for the 2013 World Junior Championships. These 27 players will meet in Tarrytown, New York on December 16-18th to determine who will represent the US in Ufa, Russia this year.
Barber, a first overall pick by the Dubuque Fighting Saints at the 2010 USHL Draft, made this giant leap in the depth chart by putting on a show playing for the third-ranked Miami University RedHawks of the CCHA this season. The 18-year-old right wing currently leads all freshmen in college hockey with 18 points in 14 games, also good for third amongst NCAA players drafted by NHL teams. Barber has been held off the scoresheet just twice in those fourteen contests.
RedHawks’ coach Enrico Blasi recently described Barber’s play to CollegeHockeyNews: “Riley has very good vision and anticipates plays well. He also has a pretty good touch around the net.”
Barber’s goal against Alaska is at 1:20.
The Capitals’ director of amateur scouting, Ross Mahoney, talked about Barber’s play to Hockey Prospect Radio on NHL radio: “We’re really happy with his play [so far this year],” he said. “Not only is he up there in the freshman scoring, he’s also up there in [overall]. Riley has gone off to a tremendous start.”
Mahoney also talked about Barber’s style of play and past achievements: “He’s very good from the top of the circles,” Mahoney said. “He’s got really good hands, and he’s very strong on the puck, and he has the ability to score. We’re happy with his development.”
Hosts Russ Cohen, also praised Barber’s play: “The one thing I’ve noticed is that he’s not afraid to shoot the puck,” Cohen said. “He’s really good on the power play, good in both ends. You’ve gotta like his skating and even when he plays in the system where he cycles the puck he does very well in that, too.”
Barber’s powerplay goal against Northern Michigan is a shining example of how valuable he can be with the man advantage:
Barber’s goal at the 0:43 mark.
In November, Barber talked to The Pipeline Show.
“It feels great,” said Barber about leading freshmen in points. “I can’t thank my coaches enough for giving me this opportunity. I worked really hard this summer to get in shape to be able to do this, so I’m really excited”.
Just like another Caps top college prospect, Patrick Wey, Riley Barber grew up in a Pittsburgh area. As a Penguins fan.
“It’s pretty ironic,” Barber said of his getting drafted by his favorite team’s rival. “My uncle loves the Penguins, has season tickets, he said ‘Please, don’t get drafted by Philly or Washington.’ I get drafted by Washington, and now he’s getting gear and coming down, hopefully, to watch a game one day. It changed my whole family’s favorite team to the Capitals.” Barber continued, “It’s pretty hard seeing the Penguins now, but I have so much Penguins gear from back when I was little, I don’t even think I can wear it around, [and I won't wear it at training camp] for sure.”
Gert, three weeks before his owner was selected by the Capitals. (Photo credit: Riley Barber’s twitter)
“My style of play is to work hard and make plays,” Barber said when asked how he describes himself as a player. “When you’re moving and hitting, you make a lot of stuff happen. That’s what I’m trying to do this year. Trying to be in the shape where I can just go hard for 45 seconds and buzz around and make stuff happen.”
Riley Barber (left) won gold with Team USA on U18 Worlds last year. (Photo credit: Jana Chytilova / IIHF)