The New York Rangers and GM Chris Drury recently announced they’d agreed to a three-year $775K AAV entry-level contract with 2022 third-round pick(97 overall) Bryce McConnell-Barker.
Coming off his rookie of the year campaign, where he compiled 23 goals and 49 points, the 18-year-old had 29 tallies, and 45 assists in 66 games this season as captain of the Soo Greyhounds, who failed to qualify for the OHL playoffs with a record of 20-33-9.
While he may be joining the Hartford Wolfpack of the AHL for their playoff push on an amateur tryout contract, it’s unlikely since he’s still eligible for another CHL season in 2023-24, given his age. According to Dobberprospects.com, which gave him a 75% chance of making the NHL, Bryce is viewed as a “Goal-scoring, two-way center with great competition for and intensity. Needs to get comfortable slowing the game’s pace and developing consistency, but could top out as a top-six forward.”
That assessment was echoed by the London, Ontario native who said on the draft night, “I’m a two-way centerman, and I work hard all over the. I am good defensively, but I can produce offensively by putting the puck in the net and making some plays too.” McConnell-Barker was previously in the conversation of possibly being a first-rounder this past Summer.
Still, due to the pandemic, the OHL’s 2020-21 season was canceled, thus lowering his draft status. During that time, the 6’1,194IB center worked out as he waited; “I put on a lot of weight and muscle, so I made the most of it, he said. “Not having that original rookie year, I think it took a little longer than I wanted it to just to get used to the league.”
“We put him in a tough spot playing against big lines and critical minutes, and I thought he thrived,” Greyhounds coach John Dean said of Bryce’s rookie of the year season.
“He became much more dominant in controlling the puck and the play, where he struggled in the first half of the year. The production might have been foreshadowed or predicted to be a little higher, but we think he will build off that going forward. Before the OHL, McConnell-Barker was in Triple-AAA with the London Jr. Knights program.
In 2019-20, he registered 29 goals and 48 points in 33 games and earned Alliance Hockey Player of the Year honors, and participated had a short stint with the Komoka Kings of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL), where he registered three goals and six points in six games. “It’s nice to know where I am and that I’m in a great organization and a great city,” Bryce said of being a Ranger, “I’m just going to train hard and work my way up to make this team in the future.”