Photo Credit: Luke Durda/OHL Images
Colby Barlow is a 2023 NHL Draft eligible prospect and plays for the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack.
Barlow played U15 AAA hockey for the Toronto Marlboros and averaged 1.38 points per game (34 games played). His U15 AAA season was his last season prior to his selection in the OHL Draft because of the pandemic. Barlow was selected #8th overall in the first round of the 2021 OHL Draft by the Attack and made his OHL debut the following season.
As of February 14, 2023, Barlow is up to 38 goals and 29 assists. Throughout this season, Colby Barlow has been a consistent scorer for the Owen Sound Attack. He is constantly finding open space in dangerous areas and keying up passing lanes for his teammates to exploit.
D.O.B – February 14, 2005
Nationality – Canadian
Draft Eligibility – 2023
Weight –187 lbs
Position – Left Wing
Handedness – Left
Barlow’s Style Of Play
Colby Barlow knows exactly what he needs to do in order score goals. Get to high danger. Establish open ice. He does that on repeat. Every shift. He is looking to acquire open ice to create passing lanes and then quickly get a shot off at net-front. Barlow has found success in high danger areas off of the rush and mid-cycle. He does a good job of hanging in stride with his puck carrying teammate on odd man rushes to provide a back door option at net-front. When mid-cycle, Barlow acquires open ice to quickly get his hands onto rebounded pucks at the doorstep, but he also does it to key up a one-timer backdoor option for his teammates.
Sometimes, he might be slightly behind his teammate with the puck, but he knows to drive to the net. He knows to drive to the net because he still can provide said teammate with a secondary option.
Every now and then you will see Barlow score a low danger goal like this one against Flint. But, the bulk of his goal scoring is coming off of opportunities at net-front after he has acquired open space.
Barlow isn’t the primary transporter of the puck when in transition. So usually he isn’t the F1, but there are a few shifts per game in which he does end up driving the puck into the offensive zone. When he does, if pressure seems to be a bit daunting right off the bat, he will delay at the point and went till a teammate comes near him so he can execute a clean drop pass. When he is driving to the net with possession of the puck, should he encounter strong pressure from an opposing defenseman, he doesn’t have the shiftiness / mobility to maneuver around said defenseman. Barlow isn’t really using his frame either. I’d like to see Barlow start to push into pressure when he has control of the puck, so that he can keep the defenseman at a distance while he extends the puck out away. When he does see pressure tighten up, he usually settles for a shot from range.
He also doesn’t use his frame to push into pressure when working the puck along the half-wall boards and pressure is right on him. I’d like to see him use his frame to dictate to open up space for himself or pivot out and skate towards the interior. Instead of using his upper body strength to create separation, he skates the puck back towards the blue line and looks to pass back to the point.
I also noticed that Barlow does look down at the puck quite a bit when pressure is closing in on him and he is along the boards. When he looks down at the puck, he is delaying what he does next. That allows the pressure to close up in on him and trap him.
When on the forecheck, he does look to utilize his crossovers to build up speed to get to the loose puck before an attacker gets to the puck. Should the attacker beat him to the puck, Barlow doesn’t look to close the gap to trap the attacker. Instead, he backs off a bit. At this point in his development, Barlow is still working on using his body more and more on the forecheck when he is in pursuit of the puck but can’t net the speed to get to the loose puck before the opposing attacker can. He also has the reach to be an effective poke checker on the forecheck, but isn’t extending his stick when he is in range of the puck carrying attacker.
Barlow isn’t really a playmaking forward. As stated earlier on, he is usually the forward looking to establish open ice in high danger to capitalize off of tip-ins and one-timers. But, as a result of cycling the puck and working the puck down low, he collects plenty of primary assists on passes in which he had to make with pressure closing in on him. In addition, sometimes opportunities do open up in high danger where he takes a shot on net, collects his own rebound and completes a lateral feed across the doorstep to a fellow teammate crashing the net. The opposing goaltender can’t shift over in time to make the stop.
Barlow does a good job of closing in on attackers with the puck when mid rush along the boards. By closing in on them, he forces them to dump possession of the puck into the Owen Sound zone. Over the course of the season, I’ve seen Barlow extend his out his stride more and more to build up speed when he is looking to shift into place to trap the attacker. That allows Barlow to cover more distance.
Like in the defensive zone, he does a good job of skating near puck carrying teammates and providing them with a passing lane. It doesn’t matter how much pressure the puck carrying teammate is dealing with. Barlow is always close by. More often then not, after acquiring possession of the puck, he quickly looks to re-distribute the puck to a teammate further up in the zone. Even under pressure, Barlow does a good job of identifying tight passing lanes to exploit and can wire passes underneath the stick of the attacker who is positioned in front of him.
As mentioned earlier on in the report, Barlow isn’t the primary transporter of the puck when he is on the ice. He is more of secondary transporter. But, when he does have the puck, is determined to lead the rush and encounters tight pressure, he does a good job of keeping the puck secure. Barlow will leverage his reach to extend the puck away from the attacker who is positioned next to him. When he skates up to the blue line, should he face pressure immediately from an opposing defenseman, he will look to initiate a chip and chase.
In the defensive zone, Barlow is usually seen working the perimeter and putting pressure on opposing attackers along the point. When he reacts to a quick pass or a sudden change in oppositional puck movement, he tends to be a second late with his positioning. I’d like to see Barlow be quicker from a stand still position. If he can work on his activation from a stand still position, he will be able to keep pace and take away options for the attacker.
Barlow does a good job of providing open passing lanes for his defensive partners to complete outlet feeds once they pick up possession of a loose puck.
Not only does he net the open ice to key up the passing lane, but he also is efficient and quick with his distribution after obtaining possession. A lot of one touch passing. That comes in handy since he doesn’t always have the speed to navigate out of tight pressure. So, when pressure is closing in on him, he can quickly identify a teammate to pass to and executes the pass cleanly. His quality scanning allows him to identify a teammate with speed who is skating towards the neutral zone and then he delivers passes to hit his teammates in stride. That leads to quite a few zone exit passes per game. Not only is he getting the puck up the ice, but that allows him to take the pressure off of him so he can skate into the offensive as the F2 or F3 and get right to high danger. That allows his teammate to then hit Barlow in stride in high danger.
More often then not Barlow is distributing the puck to either an open teammate who is further down in the defensive zone or a teammate who quickly managed to establish open ice in the neutral zone. But, there are some shifts in which he carries the puck out of his zone and drives the rush. Should he encounter heavy pressure, he will double back and then use his crossovers to gather acceleration as he drives the puck back up through the zone.
Barlow generates quite a bit of speed with his crossovers and he will rely heavily on them when he is looking to facilitate the rush. Not only does it allow him to generate speed, but he relies on his crossovers to double back or change direction when he runs into too much pressure.
When you look at Barlow’s forward stride, it’s a bit short. But, he is working on extending his stride length and does so from time to time. He’s clearly been working on his stance when in stride as he is more bent and shifting more weight when in stride than he was earlier on in the season. If the deployment of Barlow’s lengthy stride extension can become more consistent, Barlow will be stronger on the forecheck and will be able to get to puck quicker then he does now. Improvements to this speed could also have a positive impact on his physicality. Many areas of Barlow’s game will improve as a result of a more consistently deployed power stride.
Colby Barlow is wired to create passing lanes to high danger. It doesn’t matter if on the rush or mid-cycle. Barlow has identified open ice and a lane for his puck carrying teammate to utilize. It’s led to quite a few 5v5 one-timer and tip-in goals at the OHL level. Barlow should find quite a bit of success at the NHL level and can be an effective top six goal scorer at the next level. If he can unlock that power stride, it will only lead to more points at 5v5 in the NHL. The NHL is all about speed and timing. With improved speed and if paired with top six distributors, he could put up 40+ point seasons at the next level and play a Tyler Toffoli-like role.
February 18, 2023
stats from InStat and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Josh Tessler. If you would like to follow Josh on Twitter, his handle is @JoshTessler_.
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