CENTENNIAL, Colo.--Colorado Avalanche prospect Travis Barron is taking part in his second development camp with the organization after being selected in the seventh round (191st overall) at the 2016 NHL Draft in Buffalo, New York, and things are different this time around.
The first experience was perhaps a bit overwhelming for the Brampton, Ontario, native, who admitted that he feels he's come a long way since the whirlwind adventure of the summer selection and that initial trip to Denver.
"A huge part of it is mental, and it's just confidence. I feel bigger, faster, stronger than I did last year," Barron said. "My confidence is higher than last year. Last year, I was all nervous and shy to come here, and this year I'm on a mission. So I'm really excited, and I just feel really good about myself."
The 18-year-old left wing is hot off a season of advancement with the Ottawa 67's of the Ontario Hockey League, one that him saw put up 37 points (13 goals, 24 assists) in 60 games while also moving into a leadership role with the squad.
"To go over my season, I felt like I matured as a player and a person. They named me captain early in the season, and that was a huge honor for me in Ottawa," he said. "Just at 18, I was really extremely proud and honored to be the leader of the team at such a young age. So, just that being said, I felt like I really matured and helped the young guys, and I just learned a lot of little things in the league last year. So I can come into this year as a more mature player."
Video: Prospect Travis Barron on captaining the Ottawa 67's
Barron said he relished the opportunity to be a leader.
"I feel like I took the young guys under my wing, and it made me better because I always wanted to do the right thing to show them what to do or help them out," he admitted. "So I always felt like I was in the right place, doing what I had to do best. It just helped me in the long run."
The thing about development is that progress must be shown, especially when being compared to organizational peers like those attending camp. While everyone is united in the same goal, to someday make the National Hockey League, the players are faced with a strange dichotomy where they're both friends and competitors to one another.
"It's a whole other level up here. Everyone's trying to get a job up here, so everyone's going as hard as they can," Barron said after the first day of camp. "We're all really good athletes here, so it's a war in the gym, a war on the ice, and it just makes you a better person and a better player, just seeing how hard everyone works and what everyone's doing.
"[There's] a lot of new faces here, for sure, but it's always nice. A lot of new, let's say, friends or competitors out there. You can say either or. We're excited. Everyone's excited to get to work and do what we can and just work hard."
What's next for Barron involves continuing on that undertaking he mentioned, the one where he works as hard as he can to earn the next step in his hockey career. The goal is to prove that he can achieve more than what is expected of a seventh-round pick.
"I'm going to finish the camp here and go back home and jump right into it again, a hard two months before coming back here in September," he confessed. "I'm on a mission, and I want to prove some people wrong and prove some people right."