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Prospect Spotlight: Seth Barton honing skills in pursuit of NHL dream

2018 third-round defenseman building muscle and learning professional game as he ascends through the ranks

by Josh Berenter @DetroitRedWings / DetroitRedWings.com

DETROIT -- When hockey players increase levels on their road to the NHL, there's a learning curve to endure at each stop, and no one understands that more right now than Detroit Red Wings prospect Seth Barton, who's gone from junior hockey, to college hockey, to the AHL in a three-year span.

Barton was drafted by the Red Wings in the third round (81st overall) of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft and immediately began his ascent up the ranks, going from the Trail Smoke Eaters of the British Columbia Hockey League to the UMass-Lowell Red Hawks of the NCAA's Hockey East Conference.

After three seasons in college, in which the defenseman earned 36 points (7-29-36) in 83 games, including 11 points this past season and a Hockey East championship game appearance, Barton signed an entry-level contract with the Red Wings on March 24 and made his professional debut with the Wings' AHL-affiliate Grand Rapids Griffins on May 11.

The 21-year-old blueliner from Kelowna, British Columbia said ascending through the ranks is all about developing consistency, learning from past mistakes and taking advantage of your opportunities.

"Moving up into the American League or the NHL, everything is about consistency and being able to play 82 games," Barton said during the last Red Wings Development Camp. "Just playing every game consistently, playing every game hard. Every time you get a chance to play, you have to make the most of it."

After working to gain weight and build more strength during college, Barton joined the Griffins for the last four games of the 2020-21 season and held his own amongst the pros, earning a plus-three rating in his four appearances, including his first professional assist on May 14 against the Cleveland Monsters.

Since being drafted by Detroit in June 2018, Barton has added more than 10 pounds of muscle to his 6-foot-3 frame, going from 174 pounds as a junior to 185 pounds this past season.

As a two-time Hockey East All-Academic Team selection, Barton is a smart player with an excellent hockey IQ, and he's working to hone his arsenal of skills to become a more complete player.

"He's a good defender, he's got good size, he can skate," Red Wings director of player development Shawn Horcoff said last year. "I think one thing is the offensive side of his game is starting to come a little bit more, he's getting more pucks to the net, he's jumping up in the play more, becoming more of a well-rounded defenseman."

Barton, who was chosen with a draft pick acquired by the Red Wings from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for goalie Petr Mrazek, is likely to return to Grand Rapids next season for his first full professional campaign, and he'll look to mold himself into an NHL-caliber defenseman.

"To become a complete, two-way defenseman that the coaches can rely on, whether it's stopping a goal in the last couple of minutes of the game, or if it's we're down a goal and we're looking for something," Barton told DetroitRedWings.com about his aspirations moving forward. "I think that's the main thing I'm working on, just completing my all-around game."

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