Evan Barratt played a solid game overall against the University of Wisconsin Badgers, in Madison, Wisconsin, on Friday. Barratt, a third-round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks, plays like a wrecking ball on the ice despite not being the biggest forward on the ice at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds.
The Bristol, Pennsylvania, native used his strong skating ability to work hard to get to the net on several occasions. Much of the night, Barratt was parked in front of the Badgers’ goaltender, screening him from shots or working hard battling for rebounds. Barratt’s positioning in front of the net is very good. He uses his strong lower half to fight off opponents, allowing him to see the puck coming on net and has good hand-eye coordination to make tips. He was knocked off balance from behind, like one should, a few times looking for pucks at his feet to pounce home for rebounds, but could not find the back of the net.
His playmaking ability did not result in any assists for Barratt but he did finish the game plus-two. Although not a great stat, Barratt’s linemates did generate offense and he was around the net or making plays throughout the neutral zone much of the night. His ability to make plays at top speed was impressive. On several occasions, Barratt found teammates with nice “area plays,” which resulted in offensive zone time for the Nittany Lions.
Defensively, Barratt uses an active stick to get into passing lanes and tip passes. He is strong in the corners and works hard to win puck battles. Through the neutral zone, he is active on his edges and forces opponents into his teammates, forcing pucks to be dump in deep, where Penn State wins a lot of battles. To say Barratt likes to get into the tough areas, in the offensive zone as well, would be an understatement. He played a hard-nosed game all night defensively and played the body any chance he could.
Barratt did struggle at the face-off circle, winning only three of the 11 draws he took, second most on the team. His lack of success could be a result of losing some 50-50 battles because of his linemates. A win here or there and he is closer to 50%. Also, Wisconsin brings a force of centers that are very good on draws. This is something that is not alarming, as Barratt may project a little better on the wing at the professional level.
On the season, Barratt has 11 goals and 22 assists for 33 points in 32 games. The junior’s 11% shooting percentage is down from last season’s 18%, but as we see with Alex DeBrincat this season in Chicago, those numbers can definitely fluctuate from season to season. Barratt leads the team with four game-winning goals.
Barratt is the type of player you know you played against when the night is over, even if he does not end up on the scoresheet. Whether it was his net front presence, work in the neutral zone or along the boards in his own zone, Barratt was motoring at 100%. He may lack the overall skills to fit into a top-six forward role consistently in the NHL, but he may be the the third-line contributor that chips in offensively, plays a smart 200-foot game and let opponents know he is going to make them earn every inch of the ice when he is over the boards.