The Colorado Avalanche are perhaps the worst-run franchise in the entire NHL, and they’re likely going to prove that even further when they unload Tyson Barrie this summer.
Set to become a restricted free agent, Barrie needs a heavy raise and the Avs appear to be hesitant to give it to him. Instead, it’s now believed they’ll look to move him, and when they do, the Leafs – a team crying out for some major blue line help – should be on the other end of the phone.
But in terms of what Toronto would have to give up in a scenario like this, it’s sort of tough to nail down.
Barrie, at 24, is a full year younger than Jake Gardiner, and should command a major return given the absurd level of output he brings. On the other hand, this is Colorado, a team foolish enough to shop this guy because his coach thinks his plus-minus isn’t good enough. Putting Lou Lamoriello on the phone with Sakic is likely a major mismatch negotiations-wise, so who knows if the Leafs would have to part with any key pieces.
Either way, on top of a roster with players they’re probably not particularly attached to, like van Riemsdyk or Bozak, the Leafs have accumulated a nice stable of prospects and also head into next month’s draft with twelve picks. If they want to make a deal work for Barrie, they have the tools to do it.
Then comes another difficult part – paying the guy.
By most accounts it looks as though Barrie is seeking a long-term contract, and it’s going to be pricey. As it should be given his performance.
Some questions have popped up over Barrie’s defensive ability, which seems par for the course for any high-scoring blueliner. But it’s probably fair to assume this is due to the Avalanche’s tire fire of a possession game under Roy.
Barrie operated at just 44.6% score-adjusted Corsi with Colorado this past season, but every player on that roster was below water, with the highest in this regard being MacKinnon at 46.68% (via Corsica.Hockey). That’s absolutely atrocious, team-wise. And as Leafs fans, we know full well how a coaching change can affect these metrics (See: Replacing Randy Carlyle with Mike Babcock).
On the offensive side of things, few do what Barrie can do.
There are only 15 defencemen who’ve scored at a rate 0.60 points-per-game or higher over the last three seasons. Barrie is one of them, and ranks 12th in that regard. And what’s more impressive, no one is younger on this list.
So what does this sort of performance command in terms of cap dollars?
Barrie would be set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2019, so after three years of contract term you’re paying a heavy premium for every additional season after that. With Barrie currently on an expiring two-year bridge deal, you’re probably looking at paying him somewhere along the lines of 4.5-million for each RFA year until 2019 and then nearly 7.0-million for all those after. On a six year deal, for example, that’s going to run you to around 6.0-million AAV.
But I think he’s worth it.
We’re talking about a right-handed potential top pairing guy here, or, at the absolute worst, a number generating machine in your main four. And his age makes it so he fits the Leafs’ rebuild perfectly.
Assuming Barrie comes in near 6-million AAV for five or six years, that would give you a blueline core of him, Rielly, and Gardiner for 15-million of cap space. That seems like a no-brainer when you’re signing up for prime years from each of these guys.
If Toronto can find a way to squeeze him out of Colorado for a reasonable return (which recent history shows us they should be capable of), Barrie is someone who perhaps makes the most sense as a target they could realistically go after this off-season.