Tyson Barrie Will Be a Norris Trophy Winner


Tyson Barrie was one of the most exciting players to watch last season on the Colorado Avalanche. In fact, he’s been pretty entertaining the last two years because of his clutch play and flashy skating ability. Plus, he’s worked on his defensive game quite a bit, particularly improving when he became our No. 1 defenseman when Johnson went down.

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Mile High Hockey released an interesting article on the plausibility of Erik Johnson ever winning the Norris Trophy. The conclusion — by most — was that his chances are pretty slim because of his “lack” of offensive production, or at least the lack of elite offensive production.

However, Tyson Barrie eclipsed 50 (53) points last season, becoming only the fourth ever Avalanche defensemen to break that mark, and it was only his second “full” season in the NHL. So, Tyson Barrie certainly possesses the potential to reach the offensive production necessary to be noticed by the league. But, winning the Norris Trophy is about more than just putting up points; although, it seems that point production gets taken into account the most.

The past five Norris Trophy winners are as follows:

Erik Karlsson 2014-15: 66 points and plus-7

Duncan Keith 2013-14: 61 points and plus-22

P.K. Subban 2012-13 (lockout-shortened): 38 points and plus-12

Erik Karlsson 2011-12: 78 points and plus-16

Nicklas Lidstrom 2010-11: 61 points and minus-2

If one is to continue going down the list, it is clear to see that most of the defensemen on the list have 60+ points for the year, and a rather respectable +/- rating. The only outlier is Lidstrom’s bid in 2010-11. But, he was 40 at the time, and I’m sure it was a concession win for him due to retirement. Besides, he still put up 61 points.

So, the criteria for a Norris Trophy is rather clear: over the past few seasons, it was obvious that the defenseman with the most points normally wins the trophy. Sure, they take into account the impact a player has on their team as well, and certainly league-recognition has to play a role. But, if points play such a big role, then Tyson Barrie is really not that far off from producing the necessary offensive numbers to gain recognition for the trophy.

However, let’s take a look at what else Barrie may have to do in order to one day win this prestigious trophy.

Does Tyson Barrie Need to Play on the Top-pairing?

All five of those defensemen that I listed earlier are the clear-cut No. 1 defensemen for their respective teams. However, Tyson Barrie plays on the Colorado Avalanche’s second pairing, and Erik Johnson is clearly the No. 1 D-man for the Avalanche.

It’s not like Barrie will be hindered from putting up elite offensive numbers on the second pairing, it’s more a question of how much recognition he would gain from putting up that type of numbers if he weren’t playing on the top pair.

The Norris Trophy goes to the overall “best” defenseman in the league for that year, so how could it go to Tyson Barrie, if he is not playing against opposing team’s best players every game, night in, and night out? Especially if he is not considered our most valued defenseman?

A D-man that can put up elite offensive numbers is valuable to an immeasurable degree, (2014 playoffs against the Wild) so perhaps Barrie does possess the necessary qualities to still get considered for the Norris trophy, regardless of his placement on the lineup.

However, let’s look at some defensive numbers first.

Tyson Barrie: Good Enough Defensively?

Here’s where we’ll get a little analytical. It’s already been stated that Tyson Barrie plays on the second pairing for the Colorado Avalanche. As such, he does not play consistent minutes against opposing team’s top players, and receives more sheltered zone starts.

Nonetheless, Tyson Barrie’s defensive numbers were phenomenal last year, especially considering his offensive upside, and the D-partner he had to drag around last season in Nate Guenin. Let’s take a look.

All stats are taken from Hockey-Reference.com and War on Ice.

First of all, Tyson Barrie sports a 1.4 Points/60 minutes at even strength, which is top in the league for defensemen, if you eliminate some of the players that don’t play the same amount of minutes or games that Barrie does. Basically, Barrie produces offensively at a very high rate.

But, the average fan already knows that. What Tyson Barrie also does very well is ensure that his teammates get a lot of shot opportunities when he is on the ice.

This stat is measured by Corsi-rel%, which totals the number of shot attempts a team has when a player is on or off the ice. Tyson Barrie’s Corsi-rel% has always been positive, which means he is good at possessing the puck and forcing play to the opposing team’s zone, even though his CF% took a dip last season. However, the entire team was pretty bad possession-wise, so any bright spots are to be noted.

Sure, he gets easier zone starts, and doesn’t play against the team’s best players, but he was also weighed down by an immovable object in Nate Guenin last year, and still put up positive numbers.

Numbers, so many numbers and stats. I’m personally not a big fan of statistical analysis because I think it takes away from the game. Still, it’s interesting to look at some of the advanced stats surrounding Tyson Barrie.

Last year was a bad year as far as possession stats are concerned for the Avalanche. And, Tyson Barrie — like most players on the roster — felt the effects of a generally bad possession team. Tyson Barrie hasn’t been in the league that long, so it’s difficult to analyze his numbers and find consistency.

Yet by analyzing his numbers and his role on the team, it is easy to see that he is certainly an elite defenseman in the making. But, does that mean he has a chance of winning the Norris Trophy ever?

Will Tyson Barrie Win the Norris Trophy?

Tyson Barrie will win the Norris Trophy in the next few years, and he may even win several. Barrie already possesses the offensive potential to claim league recognition, and his team is improving around him.

Keep in mind that Barrie had to lug a slow and incapable defensive partner around last year, and his skill level will only prove more advanced with a capable defensive partner next year in Nikita Zadorov.

Furthermore, Corsi percentage is not directly a reflection of players, but more a reflection of the team. Sure, certain players can impact the overall Corsi percentage for their team in a positive way (Barrie), and others can tank when they are on the ice (Guenin). However, Barrie has had positive CF% numbers his entire career until last season.

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A pessimist might say that his numbers dipped to negative last year because he took on a bigger role when Erik Johnson went down, and proved incapable of fulfilling that role. But, to the pessimist I would say, what is the likely scenario when you are the only serviceable D-man on a team after losing the no. 1 d-man?

An optimist would reply that Barrie was subject to such a regression in his possession numbers because the defensemen around him had no business on NHL ice, and the team in general was just not suited to a possession-conscious game.

So, with the improvement in general depth for the Colorado Avalanche, plus a clear improvement in defensive quality up and down the lineup, Barrie will take another huge step toward becoming an elite defenseman next year, and will win the Norris Trophy during the 2016-17 season.

I know, it’s a bold (see what I did there?) prediction, but I’m a Tyson Barrie fan, and he played like a man ready to take charge last season. His potential is only reaching the beginning stages, and this season will prove to be the breakout year for Tyson Barrie.

What do you think? Will Tyson Barrie ever win the Norris Trophy? Will he ever get the recognition necessary to win the Norris Trophy? Let us know in the comments! 

Next: Tyson Barrie: Avalanche Star of the Week

Next: Tyson Barrie - Nikita Zadorov Pairing: Predictions

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