Second City Hockey’s 2020-21 preseason Blackhawks Top 25 Under 25 series ranks the organization’s top 25 players under the age of 25 by Oct. 1, 2020. The rankings are determined by a composite score from three SCH writers and community member, L_B_R. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production against future projection to rank each player. All four ballots will be released after the series is completed.
Following a breakout sophomore season with Barratt scored 43 points in 32 games, Barratt ended his college career by leading Penn State with 12 goals and finishing second on the team with 22 assists and 34 points. Soon after that season ended, Barratt opted to skip his senior season with the Nittany Lions and signed his entry-level contract with the Blackhawks in April.
The strong performance in his junior year was a positive sign for Barratt, who underwent hip surgery after his sophomore season. Skating ability has always been on the biggest knock against Barratt, although that was a major focus of his offseason work — as Ben Pope of the Sun-Times reported in January.
His hands are still pretty good, though:
The hands, the hockey IQ, the vision: there are plenty of things to like about Barratt’s game, multiple aspects that suggest he could become a fixture down the middle of the Chicago forward corps in the near future. With 19-year-old Kirby Dach a long-term piece of the puzzle and 23-year-old Dylan Strome still under team control as a restricted free agent, the continued development of Barratt could give the Blackhawks a solid 1-2-3 punch down the middle of its forward lineup.
Should the Blackhawks re-sign Strome, that’ll complete the entire center corps with Jonathan Toews, Dach, Strome and David Kampf. Veteran signings Lucas Wallmark and Mattias Janmark further crowd the center position in Chicago. That likely means Barratt would have to earn a roster spot on the wing during the upcoming training camp if he hopes to start the 2020-21 season at the NHL level.
What’s more likely is that Barratt begins the season in the AHL with the Rockford IceHogs. However, considering Chicago’s recent commitment to its younger players, Barratt could be among the first players called up during the regular season.