Colorado Avalanche Tyson Barrie Panning Out


I admit it — I agitated for not giving Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie a big contract last summer. I wasn’t sure he was going to have such a stellar year this season.

Stop laughing. In my defense, thus far all we had seen of Tyson Barrie was half a season of exceptional offensive defenseman hockey preceded by struggles. At one point last season head coach Roy even sent him back to the Lake Erie Monsters. To my mind he was still relatively unproven.

Well, he’s proven now. It’s not so impressive that he’s having a career season with the Avalanche — this is only his second real season in the NHL after all. Rather, it’s impressive what elite numbers he is putting up.

During the game against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night, Barrie surpassed 50 points. He has now become the fourth defenseman in Colorado Avalanche history to reach that milestone. The other three names on the list are impressive indeed — Sandis Ozonlinsh, Rob Blake and the legendary Ray Bourque. (John Michael Liles came close one season with 49 points.)

Now, a moment of clarity — Ozolinsh did it four times (and he got up into the 70s a couple times) and Blake did it a couple times. Barrie’s done it just once. But then again, he’s just in his second NHL season.

Avalanche About Barrie

Forward John Mitchell did joke that Barrie has a “Number 4, Bobby Orr” thing going on. Defensive partner Nate Guenin laughed that he had to be careful he didn’t sit back and just “watch the Tyson Barrie show” when they were on the ice together. Both had nothing but genuine praise for his ability, though.

Coach Roy has said all along that he’s pleased with Barrie and “proud of his success.” He’s also called Barrie the Avalanche’s “best offensive defenseman.”

Center Matt Duchene spoke during a post-practice press conference and had flattering comments to make about Barrie:

"“The first time I saw him play, I could tell that he had it, that special quality that could make him an elite player at any level.”"

Veteran Jarome Iginla is appreciative of Barrie’s two-way play:

"“Whenever he has the puck, he creates the play, finds the open guy or jumps into the play. He creates so much for us. But also defensively, he’s solid. He’s not just a forward out there. When they have the puck, he plays good defense.”"

Barrie has pretty impressive statistics so far this season:

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Barrie’s Place in the Avs New Age

In case you haven’t heard, the Avs New Age next year is going to be about being bigger and stronger. In an interview with The Fan Morning Show, coach Roy talked about the Avalanche’s need to get even bigger. The Avs aren’t exactly small to begin with. On their regular roster, only three players are under 6-foot, and only three under 200 pounds.

Of those players, only two are both under 6-foot and under 200 pounds — Daniel Briere and Tyson Barrie. Only Barrie is a defenseman. No other defenseman is even under 6-foot-1 or 207 pounds. Barrie is 5-foot-10, 190 pounds. He’s not big.

Barrie is speedy, though. He’s definitely top-four of speediest players. According to outsiders, Matt Duchene is the speediest in the corners and Nathan MacKinnon fastest in a straight line. Erik Johnson is faster than Duchene going coast-to-coast (here’s the video proof) and faster than Barrie coast-to-coast (he beat Barrie in stopping the puck from going in during Game 1 of the playoffs last season). Barrie’s faster than anyone else on the team, though.

Coach Roy may be looking to upgrade on size, especially in the defensive zone. However, he and GM Joe Sakic would be hard-pressed to upgrade on skill and talent. Barrie has it in him to be elite.

And the Avs have him for one more year at least.

Next: Roy and the Excitement of Avs Hockey

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