The Tyson Barrie contract is a piece of unfinished business for the Colorado Avalanche. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

5 Reasons Tyson Barrie Won't Receive a Big Contract

With center Paul Stastny fleeing to St. Louis and forward Ryan O’Reilly inked for the next two years, the only major housekeeping left for the Colorado Avalanche is signing restricted free agent Tyson Barrie.

Fans and sports writers alike estimate Barrie should garner a significant pay increase from his entry-level contract and/or a long-term contract. Barrie is a roving defenseman with strong transition play and obvious offensive skills. Nonetheless, the Tyson Barrie contract is unlikely to be lucrative or long-term.

1. Barrie is a small guy.

At 5-foot10, 190 pounds, Tyson Barrie is the smallest Avalanche defenseman by a wide margin. The next regular – and not so regular, considering how often he was a healthy scratch – for the Avalanche is Ryan Wilson at 6-foot-1, 207 pounds. The top-two defensemen from the 2013-14 season are each 6-foot-4 and, combined, weigh 1/5 of a ton – that’s a lot of hockey player.

Barrie’s even small for a forward –while a couple Avs forwards are near Barrie’s size, most hover around 6-foot, 200 pounds. In the NHL, anything under that 6-foot, 200-pound mark is considered small. Barrie’s fast, but a lot of players are big and fast. They’re the one who often garner lucrative contracts.

2. Barrie doesn’t have the long-term stats.

Ok, Barrie can’t help his size, but he makes up for it, right? He’s offensively gifted, has an accurate shot and a knack for game-winning goals. Well, in the 2013-14 season that was all true. You could even extrapolate that, had he played all 82 games rather than getting bounced back to Lake Erie at the beginning of the season, he would have had a 40-point season. Of course, perhaps his diminutive body couldn’t have handled the physicality of NHL play for the whole season, and he would have been Matt Cooked all the sooner – perhaps by David Backes in lieu of his Nathan MacKinnon wrangle.

The point is, Barrie has yet to play a full season in the NHL. Prior to last season, he only played 42 games over two season, and neither of them were impressive. There’s just no way of knowing if Barrie will be an integral aspect of the Avalanche’s “core of young players.” He may – or he may be a one-hit wonder. It would be too risky to sign him to a long-term and/or big-money contract at this juncture.

3. The Avalanche haven’t signed Barrie yet.

If the Avs were going to award Barrie a lucrative contract, he’d be signed by now. While a case could be made that the organization was distracted by the O’Reilly contract drama, they did sign a contract extension with Jamie McGinn on June 19. According to CapGeek, McGinn will receive $2.9 million each year for the next two seasons. McGinn is similar to Barrie in that he’s not a top guy, but he can play top minutes, having seen time on Matt Duchene‘s line last season (including when he accidentally Matt Cooked Duchene, but that’s beside the point).

So, the fact that the Avalanche haven’t signed Barrie almost a week into August means there’s some point of contention. Likely, the player – or the player’s agent – is aiming for higher than Kroenke Sports is willing to pay.

4. Kroenke Sports doesn’t throw money at hockey players.

On that note, if Kroenke Sports made a habit of handing out high-value contracts, Stastny would still be an Avalanche, and O’Reilly wouldn’t have been taken to arbitration – because Duchene would be making more money as well.

Like it or lump it, Kreonke Sports is going to consider a return on investment for every contract – and a player’s stats are only a part of the equation. The Avalanche only have to be good enough to make the playoffs more regularly until franchise players like Duchene and MacKinnon come into their own. And perhaps even then. All that matters is that the Avs come close to filling the Pepsi Center on a regular basis. Until Cup contention translates directly into higher ticket prices, Kroenke Sports has no reason to throw money at hockey players, regardless of their playing ability.

5. The Avalanche have their structure.

“It was working like this [internal salary structure] in 1985 when I signed my first contract. It hasn’t changed — every team decides. I remember Serge Savard saying ‘I can’t give you this, Larry Robinson‘s making that.’ And today it’s the same thing.” — Head coach Patrick Roy
No one can get paid more than Matt Duchene on the team – Patrick Roy all but came out and said it when he alluded to his own playing days and signing contracts. There’s structure, and there’s how the Avalanche are built – and even cornerstone defenseman Erik Johnson defines the team in terms of their offensive production. Ergo, forwards get the glory and the money.
Speaking of that cornerstone defenseman, if no player can make more than Duchene, I doubt any defenseman will be allowed to make more than the Avs’ number-one D-man. Johnson is set to make $3.75 million then $4.25 million over the next two seasons. Former partner Jan Hejda and proposed future partner Brad Stuart have similar earnings coming their way. Barrie won’t be offered more money than D-men who are higher in the pecking order than he is. (Plus, Johnson’s going to be up for a new contract relatively soon…)

So, how much will Barrie make?

While it’s true the Avalanche have about $3 million in cap space to play with, I put him in the pecking order around Ryan Wilson, who will make $2.37 million next season. Wilson’s not necessarily a better player, but he does have more experience and a similar level of potential (if he can impress coach Roy enough to make the team regularly). Experience-wise, you could even place Barrie around Nick Holden, who’s set to earn $1.65 million for each of the next three seasons.

Ultimately, Barrie has had one good season predated by two mediocre ones, during which he could barely make the team. So, I reckon the Avalanche are offering Barrie somewhere between Wilson’s and Holden’s salaries for two years. After all, the Colorado Avalanche front offices will surely want to see if he pans out both as a player and a crowd draw before they offer him any better.

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