The Leafs have assets to trade for Tyson Barrie, but what will they pay him?

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.

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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. 

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  • Randy's Toaster

    I don’ think I would do it. Why give up assets when you might already have who player can fill a similar role?

    For comparison sake let’s use the AHL. Tyson Barrie has 57 points in 93 regular season AHL games. That’s 0.6129 points per game.

    The Leafs have another speedy right handed defenseman with 75 points in 138 games for 0.5435 points per game which is very close and he is only 22 years old.

    Who is that Leaf’s prospect?

    Connor Carrick!

    Connor Carrick is about the same size but plays a much grittier game than Barrie. Let’s give Carrick a fair chance to become a top 4 defenseman before we trade away assets. Carrick seems poised for a breakout next year.

    We also need to see how Zaitsev does before we trade away assets. Maybe Zaitsev can become that first paring right defenseman.

    It’s not time to panic an trade assets prematurely.

    • CMpuck

      I am on the fence on this issue at the moment, but you said Connor Carrick is the same size as Tyson Barrie, that is like saying I am 6′ and I am about 3.5 inches short of that, so definitely not the same size.

  • CMpuck

    If Barrie is available you can be sure that the Oilers are offering RNH or Eberle, or the 4th overall plus something. I don’t think we can (or should) match that.

    The only way we might be able to compete with the Oilers would be if Colorado is intent on getting back a defenseman and we’re willing to give up Gardiner. In that case it’s kind of a wash for us except that we’d then have an RHD to play beside Reilly, which would be a really good top pairing. We’d still need to fill a 2nd pairing LHD but that’s a lot cheaper and easier to find than a top pairing RHD is.

  • Kanuunankuula

    Why would the Leafs not be particularly attached to van Riemsdyk? I think they need a player like him, his size is a good contrast to their other scorers, gives them a little more flexibility on offense.

  • DragLikePull

    “I don’ think I would do it. Why give up assets when you might already have who player can fill a similar role?”

    If you acquire the known good player you have two possible outcomes:

    1. The prospect doesn’t pan out. You still have one good player.
    2. The prospect does pan out. You now have two good players.

    On the other hand, if you pass on the good player and put all your hopes in the prospect, you have two possible outcomes:

    1. The prospect doesn’t pan out. You have no good players.
    2. The prospect does pan out. You have one good player.

    If you have two options, and the *worst* case scenario of one option is the same as the *best* case scenario from the other option, you should obviously choose the option that works out well even in the worst case scenario.

    • Randy's Toaster

      Your math is wrong at the most elementary level.

      “The prospect does pan out. You now have two good players”

      No, you traded the prospect or prospects to get the known player, your asset pool is now less.

  • Kanuunankuula

    Tyson Barrie would be an upgrade from gardiner being a right hand shot, as the leafs have 3 right hand shot defencemen in the system currently. And two are young guys who probably wont see regular NHL ice time for four or five years. The leafs also have Corrado. He’s an inexpensive right shot defenceman that could replace Barrie on Colorado. Throw in Bozak, to replace Duchene who they seem intent on shipping out, and give them their 4th round pick back, and a prospect like Liepsic and we get Barrrie for nothing we had in the long term plans. Reilly- Barrie, Gardiner – Ziatsev , Marincin – Carrick 18 million for your Defence core is not too shabby.

  • Randy's Toaster

    Regarding Post #15:

    The problem with trying to make a deal where you get a prime asset and the opponents get “nothing we had in the long term plans” is that those players won’t be in the opponents’ long term plans either, so what is there to entice them to make a deal.

    4 x not much is still less than a prime young player. When you’re acquiring a known high quality asset, the other team will want something of quality in return.

  • Randy's Toaster

    Why don’t we continue to build through the draft as we have. Let’s not trade away all the assets just yet.
    I like the top 6 D-men as is
    Reilly- Zatsev
    Gardiner- Marincin
    Hunwick- Carrick
    Provided Zatsev pans out to what he has been hyped up to be

    • Kanuunankuula

      Zaitsev, Carrick are unknown quantities. We might have something in them, we might not. Probably not the stud D-man we need. Drafted D-men are too young to be in the Nylander-Marner-Matthews window.

  • Gary Empey

    The good news if we do manage to trade for him is Babcock and the Leaf fans are much more forgiving than Patrick Roy, when a defenceman makes a bonehead play that leads to a goal.

    Why I can see Babcock now writing in his little notebook, a reminder to find Barrie some real good seats for the Leafs next game.