Montreal Canadiens: Justin Barron Taking Advantage Of Opportunity

Oct 24, 2023; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens defenseman Justin Barron (52) plays the puck against the New Jersey Devils during the first period at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 24, 2023; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens defenseman Justin Barron (52) plays the puck against the New Jersey Devils during the first period at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Montreal Canadiens made a bit of a surprising trade when they dealt Artturi Lehkonen to the Colorado Avalanche at the 2022 trade deadline.

It wasn’t totally shocking that they moved on from the defensive winger, as he was going to be a restricted free agent and the team was struggling mightily all year. Obviously they were sellers, but were they going to move players who were not unrestricted free agents?

The answer became clear when they moved Tyler Toffoli to the Calgary Flames, and then Lehkonen was dealt on deadline day for Justin Barron and a second round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft. While Lehkonen immediately found success and won a Stanley Cup right away with Colorado, Barron has split time between the Laval Rocket and Canadiens.

Barron started this season as a healthy scratch. The Canadiens have a lot of young defenseman and there just isn’t going to be room for every one of them long term. It seemed possible Barron could become a forgotten man or a depth piece when he was scratched for three straight games to begin the season.

It is not ideal for a 21 year old to just sit and watch, but Barron was finally given an opportunity in the team’s fourth game of the season and he has run with it.

His first game of the season he played just over 11 minutes and was clearly the sixth defender on the depth chart. He seemed a bit tentative in that game and perhaps a little rusty as the puck was bouncing off his stick a little bit.

His second game started well as he blasted home a rebound less than three minutes into the Habs game against the Buffalo Sabres. He would go on to play over 15 minutes that night and look a lot  more comfortable as the game went on.

Barron opened the scoring again the next day, as the Habs pulled ahead of the New Jersey Devils early, though they would go on to lose 5-2. The Halifax, Nova Scotia native would play 21:22 in that game, moving up to the top pairing with Mike Matheson as David Savard was out of the lineup with injury.

He played over 20 minutes again on Thursday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, helping the Habs improve their record to 4-2-1 on the season. He was moved down to the second pairing with Jordan Harris, but it could be a perfect partnership for him.

Barron is a smooth skating defender who can carry the puck up ice and likes to jump into the rush and join the attack in the offensive zone. He also has the smarts and wheels to get back and make plays defensively, but Harris is more of a stay at home type who defends the rush well which allows Barron to play his game.

It could turn into a great pairing for the Canadiens in the future. If Barron continues to improve on a nightly basis like he has in his first four games of the season, it could be a great pairing very soon.

When David Savard was injured, it left the Canadiens short on veterans as well as right shot defenders. Gustav Lindstrom was called up to fill that roster spot, but it was Barron who took on those minutes and he has looked great.

The Avalanche were quite happy with the trade to acquire Lehkonen when they won the Stanley Cup, but it could turn out to be a great trade for the Canadiens as well if Barron keeps playing like he has recently.

Next. Should Habs Trade Josh Anderson To Fill Top Line Role?. dark

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