Morgan Barron: Why he will be a Rangers mainstay

Morgan Barron, 174th overall pick of the New York Rangers, (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Morgan Barron, 174th overall pick of the New York Rangers, (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

A former sixth round pick, this New York Rangers top prospect is now expected to impress.

Morgan Barron has the potential to be a New York Rangers mainstay for the foreseeable future, and I wholeheartedly believe that this potential will come to fruition.

At 6’3″ and 217 pounds, the left-handed center from Cornell University was the literal definition of his team’s nickname,  the “Big Red.” He told Vince Mercogliano of how his coaches helped teach him to use his body to shield off pucks and to impose himself on defenders, but most importantly his hard work was noticeable on both sides of the rink.

"“The coaches have really helped me work at using my body and being able to physically beat defenders, in terms of being down low and taking the puck to the net, or finding a way to get to the net front for tips and rebounds and things like that,” he said. “That’s been a big, big step for me.”"

As a sophomore, Barron put up an impressive 15 goals and 34 points, while ranking fourth in the entire country in shots on goal per game (4.22). He was also a finalist for the ECAC’s Best Defensive Forward Award which is voted on by the league’s coaches, speaking to how hard he is to play against.

This past year as a junior, the newly appointed Captain became the first Cornell player in 10 years to register more than a point-per-game at 32 points in 29 games (compared to his 34 in 36 games the prior year). This earned him the ECAC Player of the Year Award and a very justified spot among the 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award.

Before the pandemic abruptly cancelled the NCAA season, the Big Red were the top team in the nation with a record of 23-2-4. On pace to compete for their first national championship since 1970, it should not be overlooked that it was Barron leading the way for his team, both as a point producer and a leader.

"“It’s been tough to watch in a certain sense the past few years because I’ve wanted to be a part of it as soon as possible…”"

Also speaking to Mercogliano, the Rangers sixth round pick in 2017 made clear that he understood that he would have to work harder than most to achieve his dream of realizing the NHL. It is this hard-working attitude compared with an eagerness to prove himself to the Rangers brass that makes him a very exciting watch come training camp in November.

The Rangers lack depth at center, especially with Ryan Strome’s status with the team up in the air, as he is an arbitration eligible Restricted Free Agent. This could mean that Barron will be competing for a regular spot in the lineup as third or fourth line center.

There won’t be any help at the draft with the Rangers expected to select Canadian left wing phenom, Alexis Lafrenière with their first pick.  Even if they draft a center with their second first round pick, the pool of centers next season is not expected to grow too much this off-season.

Outside of Mika Zibanejad who is becoming a star before our eyes, the Rangers lack a formidable two-way center who can be utilized and trusted in all situations, and  produce offensively (sorry, Brett Howden).

The Rangers staff – who consistently and rightfully so, preach patience – may be very content to let their youngsters prove that they are capable of taking on a larger role, such as Filip Chytil moving up to the 2C spot.

In that event, don’t be surprised if Barron turns a few heads at training camp and ultimately competes with Howden for the 3C or 4C spot, depending on Strome’s pending future with the team.

Even if the newly-signed center needs to start the year in Hartford, he doesn’t seem like the person, let alone hockey player, that would take a call up for granted, and for that reason I believe once he cracks the Rangers roster he will never look back.

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