2022 NHL Draft: Sharks select Eli Barnett in seventh round

San Jose doubles down on right-handed defenders.

The San Jose Sharks use their first of three seventh-round swings on big-bodied defenseman Eli Barnett. The 6-foot-6 blueliner will go onto the University of Vermont next season, where he’ll be teammates with Ducks prospect Ethan Bowen. Barnett will need to be an impact player, as the Vermont Catamounts 8-25-2 finished last season without a player scoring more than a half-point-per-game.

One of the oldest players eligible for the 2022 NHL Draft class (he’ll be turning 19 in September), the New Brunswick native put up 13 points (3 goals, 10 assists) in 55 games with the Victoria Grizzlies of the British Columbia Hockey League. Ahead of joining the Grizzlies, he told media that he is “a stay-at-home defenceman but I can create offence sometimes and I have a good shot from the point.”

Victoria general manager and head coach Craig Didmon pointed out before the 2021-22 season that “Eli has size and mobility and is going to be an impact player.”

San Jose has prioritized right-handed defensemen this draft. Entering this week, the club only had two notable youngsters in Ryan Merkley and Gannon Laroque on their right side of the future. Now, the organization has taken interesting swings on Mattias Havelid and Barnett in order to sure up their defense of the future. Barnett should have a long career at the University of Vermont before turning professional.

An interesting note, Barnett played AAA baseball, but ultimately decided on hockey, a path which could now take him all the way to the NHL.