Every player on an NHL team plays a role. Some play bigger roles than others.
In the coming weeks, Jill Sorenson, Tarik El-Bashir and JJ Regan will rank the 25 most important players in the Caps’ organization, from least to most important, weighing factors such as past production, future potential and intangibles.
Today’s player: No. 23 Riley Barber
When it became clear the Capitals would have spots open on the fourth line, Riley Barber was on the short list of players who seemed destined for an NHL role next season.
As a sixth-round draft pick, not much was expected of him at the NHL level. With an impressive career at Miami University of Ohio, however, he showed he had much greater potential than originally thought. In his final college season, Barber scored 40 points in 38 games. That potential did not go unnoticed by USA Hockey. While in college, Barber played in the World Juniors and even served as the captain for Team USA in 2014.
Barber has remained productive at the AHL level scoring 55 points in his first professional season. A hand injury shortened his second season to only 39 games, but he did manage to make his NHL debut with three games for the Capitals last season.
The Pittsburgh native has managed to find production at every level of the game and his two-way style of play will serve him well when vying for a spot on the fourth line.
Barber is an overachiever in every sense of the word. The 167th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, he has exceeded expectations every step of the way. In three years at Miami (Ohio), he was consistently one of the better scorers in college hockey and impressed on the international stage with Team USA.
At 6-0 and 193 pounds, Barber does not have outstanding physical gifts. But what he does have is determinationa nd moxie, enough of it to make up for his lack of physical stature. He found a way to score at every level and plays a strong two-way game. Barber also has the makings of a future leader, something that measurements and statistics can't quantify.
Check out the full list of the Caps most important players as it comes out here and check out past player profiles below.