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Barlow ready to take next step with Winnipeg Jets

Prospect from Orillia working hard in off-season to prepare for rookie camp in September
Orillia's Colby Barlow was selected 18th overall by the Winnipeg Jets at the 2023 NHL Draft.

Orillia’s Colby Barlow is feeling ready for his first season of hockey as a Winnipeg Jets prospect.

On June 28, the hockey player from Orillia was selected 18th overall by the Jets at the NHL Draft in Nashville. Four days later, he flew to Winnipeg for development camp.

“It was a great experience,” he said. “It was an eye opener taking that next step where everyone is so much faster, stronger, and the pace of play is a whole other world.”

Development camp also gave Barlow the chance to see Winnipeg for the first time, a city he hopes to live in soon.

“It’s a beautiful city,” he said. “It was neat being able to see the arenas, the facilities, the people in the organization, and the city itself.”

During his first week as a Jet, the team put him to the test on and off the ice. He took part in fitness testing and team-building exercises.

“I got to know guys and make friendships. That’s kind of what it’s all about,” he said.

Barlow has already developed a close friendship with Rutger McGroarty, a forward from the University of Michigan who was selected 14th overall by the Jets in the 2022 NHL Draft.

“I saw him at the airport and he was kind of the first guy I talked to,” Barlow said. “We kind of have the same personality. We are both outgoing, and our bond felt like it got stronger each day. It felt like we had known each other for 10 years by the end of the week.”

Barlow, 18, returned to Ontario in mid-July and has been working out five days a week in Toronto. He’s been spending weekends in Orillia with friends and family.

“There has been a little bit more going on for me this summer (than) last summer,” he said. “It’s been a pretty crazy summer.”

Since being drafted, he has noticed more people are recognizing him around town.

“It’s awesome to see the support,” he said. “It’s awesome when people congratulate me or say hi. It’s pretty cool to see all of these people who have supported me since I was young.”

Barlow has been focused on trying to get bigger, faster and stronger this off-season to show the Jets he is ready to take the next step. He will fly back to Winnipeg on Sept. 12 for rookie camp, and he hopes he will receive an invitation to the main roster camp.

“Hopefully, that’s when I’ll get to be on the ice with all of the guys who are on the roster,” he said. “That’s when I’ll really get my first taste of what I need to do.”

He is looking forward to the opportunity of playing alongside NHL veterans.

“I’ve been watching these guys growing up,” he said. “I’m going to be on the ice with them. It’s pretty crazy to think about, and super exciting.”

Barlow isn’t sure if he will have a chance to play in a pre-season game this fall. It depends on how well he does in camp and what the Jets have planned for him.

“I’ll go out there and do the absolute best I can. Whatever happens happens,” he said.

He knows the odds of making the NHL roster this season are low, but he plans to do whatever he can to make it happen.

“It’s pretty tough to crack that lineup,” he said. “I just have to do everything to the best of my abilities on and off the ice and present myself as the best version of me.”

If Barlow isn’t skating with the Jets in October, he will be sent back to Owen Sound to play his third season in the OHL with the Attack.

“I just want to be better than I was last year,” he said. “It’s important to keep progressing on an incline.”

He expects the Attack to be a “strong” contender for the J. Ross Robertson Cup this year.

“We come together and go to work every single day to bring a championship back to the city,” he said. “We are doing it not only for ourselves but also the community of Owen Sound.”

Barlow, who has played with Team Canada on different levels for numerous international tournaments, believes he has a chance to play for Canada again in December at the IIHF World Junior Championship.

“I was in their meetings over the summer,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough roster to crack, but it depends on how my season goes at the start of the year. It’s definitely a possibility.”


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Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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