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Goals for a defenseman: Justin Barron among the NHL’s top-10 this season

When the Habs traded Artturi Lehkonen to the Colorado Avalanche in March 2022, they weren’t necessarily happy about it. Lehky was a beloved guy in town (especially after his St. John’s Day goal) and he was starting to come into his own in Montreal as a solid 200-foot winger.

Joe Sakic knew what he was getting in Lehkonen (and Nathan MacKinnon even said that a guy like Lehkonen is worth 10 first-round picks), and that’s why he went for him.

That said, the Habs still got a quality return in return for the Finn: they acquired a second-round pick in 2024, but more importantly, they acquired Justin Barron, who filled an organizational need at the right-hand defenseman level.

And while Barron is far from perfect all the time, he seems to have discovered a talent for scoring goals this season, with six to his name already.

His six goals are good for 10th place among defensemen across the NHL in the 2023-24 season. He’s tied with five other defensemen for that spot.

(Credit: Screenshot/

Badmouths will say that he has twice as many goals as Lehkonen this season, but it’s important to remember that Barron has played 30 games while Lehkonen has only played 12.

It’s also worth noting that Mike Matheson is right behind him, just outside the top-15, but tied for 16th with the likes of Noah Dobson and Victor Hedman. To have two defenders in the top-16 of the league’s top scorers is solid.

For a 22-year-old defenseman who isn’t purely an offensive defenseman, it’s quite encouraging to see Barron among the league’s elite at this level as we approach mid-season. In fact, he has as many goals as guys like Josh Morrissey, Shayne Gostisbehere and Erik Karlsson (!), guys who are known for their offensive instincts.

I’m not saying he’s better than (or even as good as) those guys, but clearly, Barron seems to have found a recipe for scoring goals. He’s got a good shot, and when he uses it, it pays off.

Defensively, he can be a handful (last night, for example, he looked terrible on Colin Blackwell’s goal), so he’s clearly not a finished product at the moment. But clearly, at times, we can see the potential, and we seem to be discovering an attacking dimension to him.

We’ll see if the trend continues, but Barron seems to have found the recipe for scoring goals.

And if he can add that to his toolbox while fine-tuning his defensive game, the Habs could have a good one on hand.

In gusto

– What a mitten save for… Roman Josi!

– Tristan Luneau and Tanner Molendyk have to forfeit for the WJC. Too bad.

– That’s a good one.

– Evgeny Kuznetsov was reportedly nearly traded to the Predators last summer.

– It’s understandable.

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