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Morgan Barron already establishing himself as a featured weapon in Hartford

Barron continues to make the Rangers look smart for taking him in the sixth round of the 2017 Draft

NCAA HOCKEY: MAR 30 Div I Championship East Regional - Cornell v Northeastern Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

New York Rangers prospect Morgan Barron has three goals in his last four games and points in five consecutive games for the Hartford Wolf Pack. And while it’s important to note that Barron is currently shooting at 20.0% and that we’re looking at a seven-game sample it’s still great to see him have this kind of start in the AHL.

Barron’s strong start is an encouraging sign after he failed to make the Rangers out of camp. One of the more interesting quotes we heard from Rangers head coach David Quinn — who has a wealth of experience with collegiate players — before the season got underway was that Barron looked a little out of sorts in camp.

“I thought Morgan looked nervous through most of the camp,” Quinn said on a Zoom presser with the media in January. “People handle expectations differently, I think there was a lot of talk of him maybe having an opportunity to make the team and there certainly was an opportunity for him to do that ... But he’s just looked a little bit nervous, gripping the stick a little bit too much, worrying about not making mistakes”

To be clear, Quinn’s comments weren’t unfair to Barron; they were, perhaps, a bit surprising considering the unorthodoxy of both the camp and the start of the 2020-21 NHL season. Like a lot of quotes we hear from coaches — especially when they are talking about young players — it needed a little more context. For whatever reason, that quote stood out to me. And now Morgan Barron is standing out in the AHL.

Barron puts himself exactly where he needs to be.

Through his first seven games in Hartford, Barron is averaging 2.85 SOG/GP and is second on the Wolf Pack in scoring (6), behind Jonny Brodzinski (9). Per’s AHL data, Barron has the second-best on-ice even-strength goal differential (+3) among Hartford’s forwards, behind Brodzinski. It’s difficult to add further context to his performance because we’re working with a small sample and some AHL teams have played twice as many games as Hartford but Barron is tied for sixth in goals among rookie forwards. That’s a nice start.

Barron finishing on another prime scoring chance against the Providence Bruins.

Again, it’s still early, but Barron is already doing a lot of the things you want to see from a rookie forward his age in his first half dozen games of AHL hockey. He’s getting scoring chances, he’s getting pucks to the net, and he’s earning the trust of his coaches. It’s no secret that big things were expected out of Barron after the success he had at Cornell — he was a point-per-game player through his final two years at Cornell, piling up 66 points in 65 games with the Big Red — but it’s worth noting that he’s killing penalties and is a featured weapon on the power-play. In his last few games, it also appears that he’s been getting more ice time. That’s big.

Barron has also scored two of Hartford’s three goals on the man advantage. So, he is one of the few things going right on a power play that is currently at a paltry 12.0 percent after 25 opportunities. Moving forward, the Rangers’ brass will want to see him produce more at even strength at this level but there’s no denying that this is a promising start. He and Tarmo Reunanen have been living up to expectations and then some.

At this stage, it’s already safe to call Barron a success as a sixth-round pick (174th overall, 2017 Draft). Considering the struggles and the arrested development of Brett Howden, Barron’s strong start should be something the front office is keeping a close eye on. He may not be ready to be a staple in the NHL yet, but he’s a prospect who has done nothing but make the Rangers look smart for grabbing him late in the 2017 Draft.

If he continues to play this way for Hartford, he will definitely deserve a cup of coffee and a taste of the NHL game. Barron and the Wolf Pack return to action on Friday at 7:00 p.m. ET in another tilt against the Providence Bruins.