Last season was Mark Barberio‘s first full season with the Tampa Bay Lightning. With every rookie there are ups and downs as adjusting to the NHL game can be difficult. For Barberio, his first season had many ups and downs.
Barberio played in 49 games with the Lightning accumulating 10 points on 5 goals and 5 assists.
Those are not bad numbers for a rookie defenceman to say the least.
He played well enough to earn a one year/two way deal with the Lightning for the coming season.
The problem with Barberio is that it is unclear whether or not his ceiling will ever be higher than what he showed us in his rookie season. He was a sixth round pick in 2008; some sixth round picks never play an NHL game.
While Barberio has definitely earned a spot on an NHL team somewhere, I’m not sure that his future will be with the Tampa Bay Lightning as we have organizational depth at defense that will probably overtake him at some point in the near future. Players like Slater Koekkoek, Tony DeAngelo, and Dominik Masin are all players with higher ceilings than Barberio.
As of now, Barberio’s role with the Lightning is the 7th or 8th defenceman role. Currently Victor Hedman, Jason Garrison, Anton Stralman, Matt Carle, Radko Gudas, and Eric Brewer all sit in front of him on the depth chart. All of those guys except Brewer have contracts that go beyond the 2014-2015 season. Organizational depth may be what keeps Barberio from rising into a Top 6 role with the Bolts which could lead to him taking his talents elsewhere.
As I see it, the 2014-2015 season for Barberio will go one of two ways: Either he will emerge as a legitimate contender for a future Top 6 spot with the team, or he will fade away and find a new home after his contract is up, sort of like Keith Aulie.
Organizational depth is a good problem to have so I hope that Mark Barberio takes the next step in his development and becomes an every game player for the Lightning going forward. However, if he does not it won’t be the end of the world because of all the organizational depth that we have.