As we work our way down the list of the 2023 draft’s top prospects, we get closer to players the Calgary Flames realistically have a shot at drafting. One of the top names that could be available at 16th overall is Colby Barlow.
Barlow has sort of flown under the radar this season in the OHL but carries all the tools to be a very effective top six winger in the NHL in the future. As a primary goal scoring winger, he should certainly be on the Flames’ radar.
2023 NHL Draft Update: Colby Barlow was selected 18th overall by the Winnipeg Jets.
Who is Colby Barlow?
|Colby Barlow||LW/RW||Left||6’1″||190 lbs|
Barlow is a left-shot winger who has a history of playing on both the left and ride side. He possesses good size for a winger already and has plenty of room to fill out his 6’1″ frame as he gets older. He’s been ranked all over the place on draft boards, coming in as low as 22nd on Dobber’s ranking and as high as seventh on Craig Button’s. Needless to say he’s a divisive prospect.
Colby Barlow’s on-ice production
|2019–20||D-3||Toronto Marlboros U15 AAA||GTHL U15||34||23||24||47|
|2020–21||D-2||Toronto Marlboros U16 AAA||GTHL U16||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|2021–22||D-1||Owen Sound Attack||OHL||59||30||17||47|
|2022–23||D+0||Owen Sound Attack||OHL||59||46||33||79|
Barlow was born and raised in Ontario and has spent his entire junior career working his way up the ranks. He started in his D-3 in the GTHL with the Toronto Marlboros where he led his team with 23 goals and 47 points in 34 games. Unfortunately he missed out on his entire D-2 due to the GTHL being shut down.
Following the cancelled 2020–21 season, Barlow was selected eighth overall in the OHL priority draft by the Owen Sound Attack. During his rookie year in 2021–22, he immediately showed off his goal-scoring prowess as he posted 30 goals and 47 points in 59 games. His 30 goals were tops on his team and second in the OHL among rookies.
This most recent season he took another big step offensively as he put up 46 goals and 79 points in 59 games. His 46 goals once again led his team, and ranked fifth overall in the OHL. Even more impressive is the fact his 46 goals were actually tops among all draft eligible players in the OHL. Since the turn of the century, his 46 goals are the eighth most by a 17-year-old in the OHL.
Internationally, Barlow recently posted five points in five games for team Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.
Colby Barlow’s strengths
Given his impressive goal production in the OHL for his age, it’s not surprising that it’s the biggest strength in his game. Barlow flat out knows how to score goals, which is always a valuable skill at the next level. He knows how to get to the high-danger areas in the offensive zone and uses his high-end shot and puck skills to put the puck in the net. He isn’t one-dimensional when it comes to scoring either, he can do it in a plethora of ways.
He’s the type of player that can score goals off the rush and in tight around the net. He’s your typical goal scorer who’s always around the net banging in rebounds, but can also utilize his great shot to score from distance as well. He’s a pure finisher who can put the puck home from pretty much anywhere in the offensive zone. A player like that will always hold value at the NHL level regardless of other weaknesses in their game.
Strength and size
Another major strength in Barlow’s game is well his strength. At times, he looked like a man amongst boys out there in the OHL and should only continue to get stronger as he gets older. He can use his strength to drive to the net and get to the dirty areas in front, although you’d like to see him use it even more frequently. Given his mature size for his age, he was able to physically dominate down low in the OHL at times.
Maturity and two-way game
I’m not one to typically place a lot behind intangibles, but it’s certainly worth mentioning just how mature Barlow is for his age. At just 17 years old, he was named captain of his Owen Sound team—a rarity for a player his age in the OHL. He also plays a very mature game for a 17-year-old goal scorer. Typically a goal scorer his age will sacrifice defence for offence, but that’s not Barlow. His compete is amongst the highest in the draft class which contributes to his strong two-way game.
He’s a very smart and mature player at both ends of the ice as he has impressive anticipation and IQ at both ends. Despite being a winger who racks up the goals, he also excels as a penalty killer which is a rare combination. At the next level, he has all the tools to be an effective player on both the powerplay and penalty kill. In today’s game, NHL coaches love a swiss-army knife player like Barlow. He’s what you would describe as “a coach’s dream.”
Colby Barlow’s areas of improvement
Although Barlow isn’t a weak skater, his overall agility could use some work. He isn’t the most elusive with the puck and it sometimes leads to him taking low-danger shots when he’s unable to beat defenders one on one. Although he has solid north-south speed and and a strong stride, his east-west skating and agility could use some improvement. If he can improve his agility he would be able to create more high danger scoring chances for himself to use his great shot.
Colby Barlow’s comparables
Barlow has a couple similar NHL comparables. When looking at his overall game he projects similar to players like Zach Hyman, Jason Zucker, and Tyler Toffoli. All three players are hard working two-way wingers who can also put the puck in the net. He doesn’t have the elite upside to be a top-line player, but like the three names listed above, he projects to be a perfect complement on the wing in a team’s top-six.
Fit with the Flames
Where Barlow will actually go in the draft is hard to predict as he’s seen his draft rank fall over the place. That said I think it’s unlikely he falls all the way to 16th, although it’s far from impossible. If he does end up available at 16th overall, he’d be a great get for the Flames and a potential steal down the line.
Barlow is the type of player that would fit on pretty much every team in the league given his skillset. As a winger who can score goals, defend, and play on both special teams Barlow would no doubt be a great fit on the Flames. The Flame are always looking for goal scoring wingers and Barlow brings that skill.
Barlow is a mature, two-way, goal-scoring winger whose compete level is among the best in the draft. Given his skillset, he has a very high floor and at worst should be a dependable third line winger in the NHL. That said he possesses the high-end skill to potentially be a complimentary top-six winger with 30-goal potential.
Projection: Top-six two-way winger
All TWC 2023 NHL Draft Profiles
Check out more of our individual player profiles of selected 2023 NHL Draft prospects:
Connor Bedard | Matvei Michkov | Adam Fantilli | Leo Carlsson | Zach Benson | Andrew Cristall | Oliver Moore | Will Smith | Ryan Leonard | Eduard Sale | Colby Barlow | Axel Sandin Pellikka | Dalibor Dvorsky | Brayden Yager | David Reinbacher | Nate Danielson | Riley Heidt | Matthew Wood | Quentin Musty | Mikhail Gulyayev | Calum Ritchie | Gabe Perrault | Jayden Perron | Ethan Gauthier | Dmitri Simashev | Samuel Honzek | Lukas Dragicevic | William Whitelaw | Otto Stenberg | Gavin Brindley | Daniil But