The Colorado Avalanche shocked the NHL this year by bouncing back from the worst season in the salary cap era to make the playoffs. Although the Avs lost in six games to Nashville in the opening round, there is a lot to like about that organization moving forward.
One of the brightest spots in Colorado? The plethora of young, talented blueliners that the club has at both the NHL-level and bubbling under as prospects. It’s truly a strong suit for a club that has struggled to find defensive help over the years.
With all that young talent in the wings, perhaps a veteran could shake loose. That brings us to Tyson Barrie.
Why Is He Out There?:
For some reason, Barrie’s future has seemingly been in doubt the last two summers. At first it was because he didn’t fit in with coach Patrick Roy’s system and style, then it was the Avs trying to move him after a disaster of a season in 2016-17.
This year, Barrie regained form and played some of the best hockey of his career. He did miss 14 games, however, and some believe the club is fine without him as long as Erik Johnson remains to anchor the blueline.
With 2017 fourth overall pick Cale Makar, a similiar player, likely to make the club in time for the 2019-20 season and youngster Samuel Girard already making his mark in the NHL, perhaps the Avs could move Barrie for help elsewhere.
What Does He Do Well?:
Barrie is Colorado’s top offensive defender and can be a premiere playmaker from the blueline when he is on his game. 2017-18 was Barrie’s second season in four years with at least 50 points, while he’s cleared the 45 point mark three times in four campaigns.
Possession wise, Barrie posted a 48.3 Corsi For % for the Avs in 2017-18, which matches his career number in 406 total NHL tilts. The good news? Barrie’s shooting percentage (7.9%) was in line with his career average of 7.2%, while his PDO was right on the button at 100.1 for the year. (All numbers via Hockey Reference)
Barrie can handle a top-four role, evident by his average time-on-ice this past season of 22:42 per night. On his career, Barrie has averaged 21:47 TOI per night.
Here is a look at Barrie’s scounting report via The Hockey News.
Assets: Has good instincts from the back end and plenty of mobility, plus excellent offensive ability and a good point shot. Is a huge asset as a quarterback on a power play at the NHL level.
Flaws: Lacks ideal size for the blueline position at the NHL level. Needs to add some bulk to be able to better defend against bigger forwards (and cope with injuries). Is not physical.
Career Potential: Excellent offensive defenseman and playmaker.
Where Will He Play/Where Should He Play?:
Barrie is a top-four defender at the NHL-level, there is no debating that point. Personally, based on his playing style and level of ability, I think he is better suited to being a second pairing option in this league.
In Edmonton, where Klefbom/Larsson is the expected top duo, that’s exactly where Barrie would play.
What Will He Cost?:
Barrie has two years left on a contract that caries an annual cap hit of $5,500,000. In terms of real dollars, however, Barrie is owed $5,750,000 this season and $6 million during the 2019-20 season. The Avs are careful with money, and likely would like to move the final two years of that deal with Makar and Girard ready to roll over the next two falls.
In terms of trade value, Barrie for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has been debated at length over the last two summers. I am of the belief, as is Bob Stauffer of Oilers Now, that Edmonton could have Barrie if they were willing to deal RNH. I’m not sure they are right now.
In terms of a package of futures, Colorado likely insists that Finnish forward Jesse Puljujarvi is included in any potential trade.
I’m a fan of Tyson Barrie’s game. He posted remarkable offensive numbers (14-43-57 in 68 games) and has hit at least 45 points in three of his last four seasons (53 in 2014-15, 49 in 2015-16). He’s an elite offensive defender and can run a powerplay effectively.
Edmonton should absolutely be interested, but I can’t see a realistic way to get him to town. Colorado doesn’t have to trade him and likely could get a very strong package from another team after such a good year by Barrie. Odds are, the price will be too high for Chiarelli.
Too bad, because I do think Barrie would be a perfect fit in Northern Alberta.