Eli Barrett: Ready To Go Camping
When Eli Barrett sat down to follow the 2023 WHL Prospects Draft, the White Rock, BC product he couldn’t have pictured a better scenario than being picked by the team at the top of his list along with his linemate.
With their first pick of the day, the Rockets selected centre Eli Barrett four picks into the second round (No. 26) from St. George’s School U15 Prep of the CSSHL.
“It didn’t matter to me what round I was picked in, as long as it was a good team where I would be happy,” said Barrett in a telephone interview with kelownarockets.com. “Going into the draft I thought the Rockets were the best fit, so I was super excited when I was picked by them.”
Barrett, 15, finished fourth in scoring among the CSSHL’s U15 league, recording 73 points (31G, 42A) and ten penalty minutes through 27 games.
In the third round, the Rockets once again made a pick from the St. George’s team, drafting Barrett’s linemate Kanjyu Gojsic. It’s a program that the Rockets are familiar with, having made a handful of high picks in recent years; selecting Trevor Wong 18th overall in 2018 and Andrew Cristall with the 8th pick in 2020.
When chatting about his time with St. George’s, Barrett made sure to mention that his coach played a big part in helping develop him to this point.
“I just want to thank my coach Todd Harkins for helping me get to this point. St George’s has done a great job and I’m happy to be a part of the Rockets organization with the Gojsic’s as well as the other players who have come through here before me.”
In addition to Barrett and Gojsic, Harkins – who was the general manager of the Prince George Cougars for four seasons from 2014 to 2018 – also coached Andrew Cristall, Hiroki Gojsic and Rockets prospect Jake Henderson.
Following the draft, Rockets Director of Player Personnel Terry McFaul spoke on what he saw in Barrett and the potential.
“I saw Eli play lots this year at St. George’s, in the first half of the year he scored a lot and played hard,” said McFaul. “Then he kind of had a down month, month and a half where he was fighting the puck and gripping his stick a little too tight doing too much. After the John Reid tournament he started on the upswing, by the BC Cup he was back where he was at the start of the year.
“I told our assistant general manager Curtis Hamilton, I think this guy has a big window to get better. His upside is huge, he’s just a baby-faced kid that has lots of room to grow. He plays hard, he plays the right way and works in all areas of the ice. He’s not afraid, he plays tough on the puck, makes good passes and has the touch to score.”
Barrett’s work ethic and competitive drive are something that he credits back to his dad, Tim, and grandpa, Chip, who were both high-level athletes.
Tim played rugby at the University of Victoria and internationally for Canada, while Chip played football with the UBC Thunderbirds and was selected first overall by the Toronto Argonauts in the 1967 CFL Draft. Chip went on to play five seasons in the Canadian Football League, suiting up for Toronto and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
So how did Eli find his way onto the ice instead of the turf?
“My mom and grandma were a huge part of getting me into hockey,” said Barrett. “They were the ones who registered me in any sort of skating or hockey. I didn’t like it at first, but finally, after a while, I slowly started to enjoy it.”
It’s the love of the game that now drives Barrett, who signed a WHL Scholarship and Development Agreement with the Rockets on June 21st.
Entering his 15-year-old season Barrett won’t be eligible for the Rockets roster full-time this season, he’ll be permitted to appear in five regular season games for Kelowna until his team’s season has come to an end.
Asked what fans can expect from him when he hits the ice, he told us that he’s a hard worker who has a nose for the net.
“I play more like a grinder type of player, but I’m also a really good passer and playmaker. The player in the NHL that I would compare my game to the most is Brayden Point, he grinds and goes to the net but is also a good passer. He had 50 goals this season, most of his goals in the dirty areas around the net, not really heavy shots.”
With the WHL Cup taking place in October, BC Hockey invited Barrett along with Henderson and Kanjyu Gojsic to attend the Male U-16 Program of Excellence Provincial Camp in late July.
Now just a few weeks away from his first Rockets camp, he shared what he has been focusing on this offseason.
“I’ve been on the ice a few times a week and honestly, I think the main part of my summer training has been dryland and getting into the gym. I’m focusing on getting strength and power, I think dryland training is going to be the difference maker in my offseason for sure.”
Barrett will hit the ice on August 31st at Prospera Place for the first time when the Rockets 2023 training camp opens.
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