Colorado Avalanche: Tyson Barrie Won’t be Traded


Tyson Barrie has too much value for the Colorado Avalanche to trade him.

The Colorado Avalanche have five upcoming restricted free agents who all played regularly for the team last season. Three of them — Mikhail Grigorenko, Andreas Martinsen and Calvin Pickard — didn’t have huge roles for the Avs.

Two of the RFAs were integral to what success the Avalanche had last season — Nathan MacKinnon and Tyson Barrie. For some reason, though, only one of those players is the target of trade rumors — and it’s not the first-overall, Calder Trophy-winning, more glittery of those two. It’s Tyson Barrie.

Google Barrie’s name, and all you come up with is trade speculation. Practically every team’s journalists have written about whether their team would want Barrie, what he could add, and what they’d have to give up for him. The fact that Tyson Barrie will be traded is almost a forgone conclusion.

I’m here to tell you it’s highly unlikely Tyson Barrie will be traded. Anything is possible, and GM Joe Sakic himself pointed out that even Wayne Gretzky was traded twice. However, he could have been talking about anyone on the team, not just Barrie.

Why is the rumor out there so strongly about Barrie specifically?

Related Story: Is Trading Barrie Beneficial to the Avs?

Tyson Barrie as Colorado Avalanche Misfit

Under the direction of Sakic and head coach/VP of hockey operations Patrick Roy, the Colorado Avalanche have been moving steadily toward a certain mold of player. They have shown favoritism toward big, speedy players with a two-way game, grit and leadership value.

Let’s look at Tyson Barrie — all 5-foot-10, 190 pounds of him. He’s not big, and he’s not gritty. Does he have leadership value? There’s never been any indication either way.

Barrie’s defense has been much maligned — including by me. Even coach Roy has remarked that the defensive side of Tyson’s game is the first to go.

In fact, Barrie appears to be so far outside the mold that Terry Frei of the Denver Post declared that he believes coach Roy only sees Barrie as a “fifth defenseman and power play specialist.”

Add to that the fact that Barrie is represented by the same agency that represented Ryan O’Reilly. And we all know what a contentious relationship the Colorado Avalanche had in those negotiations.

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Doubt about Barrie’s Lack of Value

A lot of the trade rumor seems to be based on one assumption — Patrick Roy is prejudiced toward the young defenseman because of his size (or lack thereof). Actually, the assumption is two-part. Roy is prejudiced toward Barrie and will therefore act on that bias.

Let’s look at the first part of that assumption — Patrick Roy doesn’t value Tyson Barrie.

First of all, I’d like to know why Terry Frei thinks Roy looks on Barrie as a fifth defenseman. Roy certainly doesn’t treat Barrie that way — Tyson got the third-most time on the ice last season (23:11 average) of any player, behind only top-pairing players Francois Beauchemin and Erik Johnson. In other words, Roy used Barrie how he’s always stated he views Barrie — as the second-pairing anchor. (Last season Barrie was second only to Johnson in average time on ice per game.)

Secondly, coach Roy has always mentioned Barrie when talking about what the team needs. He seems to view Barrie as bubble-core.

For example, during an interview with The Fan, the hosts were talking about the core and named the usual suspects — Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Erik Johnson. Coach Roy said very deliberately, “I would include Tyson Barrie in that.” Granted, it was one of his many comments about how the core needs to step up, but this still speaks to his view on who comprises the core.

So, it looks like Patrick Roy values Tyson Barrie as an important part of the team. What’s more, we’ve seen that Barrie has obvious value. He was 13th among all NHL defensemen last season in points with 49 and eighth the previous season with 53. He’s certainly an offense-minded player.

Barrie’s defense is improving, too. He’s still young at 24, and he just completed his third full season with the Colorado Avalanche after two years of bouncing back and forth to the AHL. His positioning was a lot better last season than it had ever been, and he’s developing a repertoire of defensive plays that don’t rely on size. Plus, he’s speedy. He fits certain parts of the mold.

And now to the second part of the assumption — Patrick Roy will act on his prejudice by getting rid of Barrie.

Anyone who thinks that forgets the key aspect of Patrick Roy’s greatness — he’ll do anything to win. Yes, he’s fiery and cocky and occasionally rash, but at the root of all that is his complete dedication to winning. If he thinks Tyson Barrie will help the Colorado Avalanche win, he’ll keep Barrie on the team. Period.

What’s more, while Tyson Barrie doesn’t perfectly meet the player mold, he does hit the key parts of speed and offense. Roy and Sakic fired scout Rick Pracey because he kept going for the same type of player — they’re unlikely to do the same.

Patrick Roy has a great hockey mind. I’m sure he sees that all this interest in Barrie means he has great value. And Patrick already has him.

Related Story: Barrie's Player Grade

Tyson Barrie’s Future with the Colorado Avalanche

The fact that Tyson Barrie has the same representation as Ryan O’Reilly is tricky. The Colorado Avalanche and O’Reilly went head to head several times, and it got ugly (sit-outs, salary arbitration, media battles).

It all comes down to what Tyson Barrie is worth. Players who were right around him in points last season make the following:

That’s a wide range of talent there. I’d put Barrie middle of the pack — maybe around $5 million.

Would the Colorado Avalanche be willing to pay that? Possibly. That number stays within their structure that no player (before Nathan MacKinnon most likely) can make more than Matt Duchene’s $6 million. (I’d daresay, add to that that no defenseman can make more than Erik Johnson’s upcoming $6 million, but it’s the same figure.)

Would Barrie be willing to accept that? He should — it would represent almost double of last season’s $2.6 million salary.

I don’t know if Tyson Barrie could be asking for more, but I bet Colorado is initially offering less — probably in the $3-4 million range.

Therefore, the most likely scenario is that Tyson Barrie and the Colorado Avalanche are heading to salary arbitration. Whether Barrie goes through with the hearing or does like O’Reilly — make an 11th-hour deal — I don’t know. However, if Barrie goes through arbitration, he can’t be traded for one year after the hearing.

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If the Colorado Avalanche come to some agreement with Tyson Barrie outside of arbitration, they have no reason to trade him. Therefore, I firmly believe Barrie will be a member of the Avalanche next season.