With the 90th overall pick in the third round of the 2017 NHL Draft, the Chicago Blackhawks selected forward Evan Barratt. The Bristol, Pennsylvania native stayed close to home for his collegiate hockey endeavors by attending Penn State. With Nittany Lions games being aired on Big Ten Network on a frequent basis, viewers in the Chicagoland area have had the ability to tune in to games to see what Barratt can bring to the table.
In doing just that, the first thing that stands out about Barratt is that he is an absolute gamer. His playing style contains shades of Ryan Hartman on the physicality front, but he plays center instead of wing and has a higher hockey IQ. Barratt can often be found in front of the net causing havoc for goalies, along the boards working to win puck battles, or covering the middle of the ice on the backcheck and forecheck.
From a numbers standpoint, Evan Barratt knows how to contribute on the score sheet. During his freshman season in 2017-18, he posted 11 goals and seven assists in 32 games. The 2018-19 season saw Barratt net 16 goals while adding 27 helpers over 32 contests. Through 29 games of his junior season, the 20-year-old has lit the lamp ten times and dished 20 assists, good for second among Penn State scoring leaders.
His latest goal came in last night's contest against Ohio State when he crashed the net and skillfully batted the puck out of mid-air to open the scoring for the Nittany Lions.
Barratt's highlight-reel goal was so impressive that it clocked in as the number three play on SportsCenter's Top Ten. If that kind of offensive prowess can translate from the collegiate level to the NHL, Evan Barratt could be just what the Blackhawks need when it comes to initiating depth scoring.
Ever since Phillip Danault was shipped off to Montreal in an unfruitful attempt to supplement the roster with rental players ahead of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Blackhawks have been lacking a truly effective third-line center who can play at both ends of the ice. That's not to say that David Kampf is a bad hockey player, but watching him center skilled players in Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome as of late has been a bit of a buzzkill on the offensive front for Blackhawks fans.
Kampf is under contract through the 2020-21 season and will then become a restricted free agent, while Barratt still has not been signed by the organization. It will be interesting to see if the two sides nail down a pact after the prospect's junior season at Penn State, because when looking to the future, Evan Barratt may be a player who can fill that third-line center role in a more complete way.
UPDATE: Barratt added two more goals -- the one shown below and an empty-netter -- in tonight's contest against Ohio State, bringing his 2019-20 goal total up to 12.