After a successful start to the new recruiting cycle in which Northeastern landed three of their top targets at forward, Jerry Keefe’s program received a commitment from their first 2007-born defenseman in Sean Barnhill, a native of Scottsdale, Arizona.
Barnhill is a right-shot defenseman who already has pro-hockey size, listed at a towering 6-foot-4, 190 pounds on Elite Prospects, although some outlets do have his size listed as 6’2″ and 175 pounds. In either case, he has size and projectability that evaluators crave. He has played for the Phoenix Jr Coyotes program in Arizona, and has been an alum of multiple USA Hockey camps, including the Select 15, Select 16, and 2023 US National Team Development Program Evaluation Camp. He was selected by Dubuque in the fourth round of the 2023 USHL Futures Draft. He is eligible for the NHL Draft in 2025.
Barnhill is rated as a 4-star recruit by PuckPreps, and the 23rd-best defenseman in the 2007 class which includes both college hockey commits and players signed to the Canadian Hockey League. After he was drafted by Dubuque, PuckPreps called Barnhill an athletic skater who moves well around the ice and uses his mobility to shut down rush chances. They describe him as having good gap management and a physical edge that not all skaters have. Other strengths include a hard first pass out of the zone to generate an outlet into offense, good retrieval of the puck once it’s in his own zone, and overall call him a sound defender thanks to his size and mobility. Further scouting reports of Barnhill talk about his ability to have good reads on defense, sticking to his man and defending the rush well, skill with the puck as a passer and a quick release when shooting from the blue line.
After Dubuque drafted Barnhill, they published a profile piece on him, with the Fighting Saints’ Director of Scouting Dan Shrader stating “He’s blessed with his length and skating ability. Sean has a luxury of being a very effective player just by having to do less with his game. His combination of length, reach, and mobility make him a hard defender to get past. Sean’s puck management is very good and he can make a first pass or carry the puck himself. As a staff, we feel it’s important that we draft players who have the ability to defend well, beat the first forechecker, and then get the puck moving north. That type of player is Sean to a tee.”
Barnhill projects as a physical, reliable, and responsible defenseman who can help offensively by jump starting the offense in transition more than doing the scoring himself. He is someone that we can easily see developing into a player to eat large chunks of minutes on a nightly basis for Northeastern. At this time, I project that he may enter Northeastern as soon as Fall 2025, as he will turn 18 in January of that year and it gives him the opportunity to play at least one full year in the USHL, after playing this upcoming season with the Jr Coyotes program. However Elite Prospects categorized him as arriving in Fall 2026 which is very plausible if he does not play much in the USHL this season and the coaching staff wants him to get two USHL years under his belt.
Sean Barnhill looks to be a huge piece, both literally and figuratively, for the Northeastern blue line in the future. A great pickup for the pipeline. Congrats to Sean on his commitment and we look forward to watching him continue to develop ahead of his enrollment to Northeastern
As always, go Huskies!