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Barton looks to bulk up while developing his game in college

Wings' 2018 third-round pick heading to U-Mass Lowell this fall

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

DETROIT -- When you look at defenseman Seth Barton, one thing stands out - he could definitely stand to put on a few pounds.

At the Red Wings' recent development camp, Barton was one of the taller defensemen at 6-foot-3 but he was by far the lightest at just 174 pounds.

The second lightest defenseman was Gustav Lindstrom at 187 pounds. Lindstrom was the Wings' second-round pick, 38th overall, in the 2017 draft.

But Barton will have time to add weight when he attends the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

"I went down on a visit there," Barton said. "Just very professional in the way they handled things there. Norm Bazin, the head coach, well-respected, and the facilities they have there are outstanding for development. So pretty easy choice."

Barton was the Wings' second third-round pick, 81st overall, in last month's NHL Entry Draft in Dallas.

"It was pretty incredible," Barton said. "I wasn't sure if they were at the top of the list going into draft day so it was pretty incredible getting a call from Ken (Holland, Detroit's general manager). Obviously seeing it on TV, seeing it with my family, that was pretty cool."

Because Barton heads to college soon, he elected to stay home in Kelowna, British Columbia for the draft.

He was the third defenseman the Wings took after selecting three forwards with their first three picks.

Playing for the BCHL's Trail Smoke Eaters, Barton had six goals and 27 assists in 49 games this past season.

"I think this past year in junior I found my game," Barton said. "I'm a two-way defenseman that can produce points. Hopefully the coaches trust me in any situation so that's what I try to play as a defenseman. I think that's what I'll bring."

In their draft guide, the Red Line Report had Barton as their 81st player, exactly where the Wings picked him.

The Red Line Report said of Barton: "Big, strong, solid defensive blue-liner is capable of performing a shutdown role. Standout athlete is a second year eligible who emerged out of nowhere in the second half. Great in transition with an explosive start up. Displays highly advanced footwork for such a raw prospect, with dynamic east-west lateral agility. Toys with the opposition at the Tier II level with confident and aggressive stickhandling. Will pinch hard to force the action and keep plays alive at the offensive blue line. In our viewings, he alternated between being an aggressive pace-pushing defender, or a simplistic, safe puck mover. Must start linking these two styles more seamlessly with increased experience. Strong wrists produce plenty of zip on his passes. Shrugs off containment along the walls and hits teammates right on the tape while on the move. Strong down low defensively and wins corner battles."

Barton said offense came a little more easily to him when he was younger.

"I think I've always had that hockey IQ that lets me be creative in the offensive zone so I think to start off, I was more an offensive guy," he explained. "Then as you're going up higher into junior, you got to work on the defensive things in your own zone. The defensive part of the game is huge right now for me to progress so that's what I'll be working on."

When asked to name his favorite NHL player, Barton said it was a tough choice.

"Over the past few years, it's definitely been Victor Hedman," Barton said. "Tampa Bay was one of my favorite teams growing up and just the way he skates, the way he handles himself in both zones, I look up to him, that's for sure."

Since it was his first development camp and his only opportunity to be in Detroit since he can't participate in September's prospects tournament because he'll be in college, Barton was trying to soak in as much as he could.

"Just the little things like the routines that the pros bring to the rink, the way you handle yourself in the organization like this, those type of things," Barton said. "I'm out here with some pretty incredible coaches and some alumni. You learn a lot so a little bit of everything."

Barton even enjoyed the grueling fitness testing.

"It's something a little different, all that agility work and edge work out on the ice there," he said. "It's cool to see results and see where you need to get better. So I think it's something that you can kind of awaken up and see where you can improve. Overall, trying to learn as much as I can here. I think it's helped."

The Wings also had all the prospects work with the Power Edge Pro system to help them develop their skills.

"That was something really new to me. It was cool to start," Barton said. "There's some funky stuff that some guys have been doing it for a couple years, you definitely see they know what they're doing. But after the first 10 minutes, I think I got a little hang of it. It was really impressive."

Barton is hoping his development continues to impress and that he is ready to push for a spot on the Wings in the not-too-distant future.

"That's why I chose college," Barton said. "I knew I needed a few years to develop so that's exactly it. There might be some openings in three to four years, that's what I'm looking at."

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