by Denis Savage
June 11th, 2001 Barrett Heisten signed as a free agent after failing to come to terms with the Buffalo Sabres. Originally drafted in 1999 with the 20th pick overall he comes to town with a fierce reputation as a grinder who can score. After playing 2 years with the University of Maine he spent last season with the Seattle Thunderbirds on a line with another Ranger prospect Jamie Lundmark.
Barrett had probably the best season of any Thunderbird as he posted a +16 plus/minus on a team that gave up the most goals in the WHL. On a team that had one player at –38, that seems like quite an accomplishment. Beyond that through the 58 games he played he was able to post a solid 77 points. AT 6’1” and 195 this 21-year-old knows how to hit and he will do so in any zone. He has a tremendous work ethic in the corners and will often take a hit to make the play. Backing this up is his 57 assists as Barrett has great presence of his linemates on the ice.
Barrett needs to gain some weight to bring his game to the next level and become a true power forward in the NHL. He drives to the net like few NHLers do and is willing to stand up and take his blows to the back to block a goaltenders vision of the puck. Although very strong on his skates playing WHL competition he needs that extra muscle to be effective in that role in the NHL. Barrett also needs to shoot a little more as he usually tends to look for the pass. Some of that has to do with his hard work along the boards but he also must work on his coordination on tip-in goals for him to be regarded as a power forward from his left wing spot. If he finds a way to master that he could very well end up earning a lot of power play time in the NHL. Barrett also plays a solid defensive game and will out hustle other players and could make a great captain one day.Expect to see Heisten enter the season in the AHL. He could wind up playing with his linemate from Seattle Jamie Lundmark and a new addition in Pavel Brendl. A solid camp could land Barrett on the fourth line as a banger but he would definitely benefit from increased ice time and a more prominent role. Chemistry between Barrett, Pavel and Jamie could pave the way for a future line with the big club or at least spending significant time together on the power play unit. He could be a late season callup as well and will be fighting for a spot in camp making Ranger management have some tough decisions. Look for Barrett to make his explosion onto the scene as a full-time Ranger by the 2002 season, maybe in a lesser role at first giving him time to develop into his role as a possible 2nd line winger.