Colorado Avalanche Should Trade Tyson Barrie

Feb 27, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie (4) battles for the puck with Detroit Red Wings center Luke Glendening (41) in front of Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov (1) in the first period of the Stadium Series hockey game at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 27, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie (4) battles for the puck with Detroit Red Wings center Luke Glendening (41) in front of Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov (1) in the first period of the Stadium Series hockey game at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie is reportedly available this summer for the right offer. Many have been disappointed that Sakic is shopping a good player in an area of weakness. But Barrie is truly part of the problem back at defense.

Listen, I hate the Avs defense. You most likely hate the Colorado Avalanche defense. Everyone reading this site (unless they’re a lost Wild fan) most likely dislikes the Avs defense.

But I dislike one player in particular more then the rest, and he’s considered one of the few bright spots on the Avs blue line: Tyson Barrie. I fully support him being on the trade block, even though I know GM Joe Sakic is going to overpay an old, crotchety stay-at-home defenseman instead.

Here’s why.

The Saga Of Tyson Barrie

When Barrie first started playing with the Colorado Avalanche a bit back in 2013 I hated him, and I know you’re thinking, “Well you obviously dislike his play given the first two paragraphs.” But I hated Tyson Barrie (not as a person of course — he seems nice). He looked small and constantly lost in the defensive zone. He made so many turnovers, and he left his partner out to dry numerous times.

But then he grew on me a bit the next year. He played a bit more conservatively (relative to himself) and moved the puck well. He knew where to be a bit more in the defensive zone, even though his size and lack of defensive skill still made him worthless half the time anyways. But all in all he was growing on me, and by the end of the 2014-2015 season I had learned to believe the hype.

Then the 2015-2016 season happened. I’m pissed writing this because I already did my video research for this post (I know everyone is surprised I actually put work into these!) And it was so ugly.

And before I read the comments, I know Tyson Barrie had 49 points this year. That’s really good for a defenseman! But he was still -16, and the Colorado Avalanche have enough skilled forwards they don’t need their defenseman making risky plays to try and get points.

Anyways, let’s review why I’m ready to see Tyson Barrie go.

More from Mile High Sticking

The 2015/2016 Space Jam Season

(^Because he lost all his skill like when the monsters steal it from the basketball players in Space Jam.)

So let’s start with the obvious: the Colorado Avalanche are a bad defensive team, they are a bad possession team, Tyson Barrie is small. All these things interconnect, and I want to acknowledge I’m not holding Barrie to the standards the Predators would hold their 3rd defenseman to. These are the Avs’, heavily curved, defensive standards.

Anyway, I found one game that conveniently illustrates all the problems I have with Tyson Barrie. Plus it’s the Stadium Series Game, so I was there!

First, I want to say Semyon Varlamov played pretty badly that game. Nobody in hockey exists in a bubble, and if Varlamov makes the pretty simple save on Detroit Red Wing Gustav Nyquist, I might not have caught Barrie’s mistake. But that’s why you play defense, so that you minimize the chances your goalie has to screw up.

Anyway, guess who’s on the ice for all of the Red Wings goals? Tyson Barrie! Which means we can address my problems in numbered goal against form — a staple of the Avalanche writer repertoire!

The First Goal

The goal actually is not that much of Tyson Barrie’s fault. I mean he did give Nyquist a wide open chance off the rebound in front moments before, and simultaneously fail to clear the puck out. But this isn’t the movie Wanted, I’m not trying to blame goals on what Tyson ate for breakfast.

The Second Goal

Colorado Avalanche
Image from video above. /

Here’s a little game I play with the kids I coach: If you can see 5 opposing players in front of you, how many players are behind you? THE ANSWER IS ZERO.

Tyson Barrie is looking at 4 players, and common sense and his peripheral vision would tell him that the Red Wings other D probably isn’t going to crash the net from the point (plus Carl Soderberg is actually in position to prevent that, bless his heart.)

So judging from the picture above what would you want Tyson Barrie to do? I would want him to cover Nyquist in the middle of the ice. Yes it’s high out for a defenseman, but there are no other threats. And Nyquist is in great position for a dangerous scoring chance.

But Tyson Barrie decides to back into Varlamov, giving the middle of the ice up. And then, wow, the Red Wings pass to the slot and Tyson Barrie responds by doing this:

Colorado Avalanche
Also from the video. HD /

Just terrible fundamentals. Nyquist is a lefty, Barrie is a righty. Defense 101: Tyson Barrie should go in with one hand on the stick, trying to make the poke (because the puck is sitting right there for him) while using his offhand to steer Nyquist and play the body. Instead Tyson Barrie attempts to get a penalty while not playing defense and goes for the high cross check.

I honestly don’t know where you learn this. It’s truly incredible because it’s such a terrible hockey play. He can’t poke the puck away, he’s not taking away a passing lane, and if he succeeds in knocking Nyquist off the puck he’s going to get a penalty. Ridiculous.

Maybe, MAYBE, I understand this play if Nyquist is a righty or Barrie is a lefty- either scenario makes it somewhat difficult to get to the puck. Even then the stick isn’t doing any good that high.

The Third Goal

Tyson Barrie has actually improved his defensive game from the first season to last year with positioning. One thing he’s been pretty good at is getting his stick in the way. Yet here he is, in perfect position, with his stick at the ready, watching the puck go past him and into the net.

*Sigh* This is like buying the most expensive health insurance policy you ever imagined only to get the super rare Zika-Bird Flu-Black Plague hybrid that is the one type of hybrid disease your insurance won’t cover. By that I mean what the hell is the point of having Tyson Barrie go to the right place if he can’t do his job when he’s standing right next to a guy? It’s like buying the nicest blender on the market and it still can’t make good smoothies. This goal defeats my soul.

Editor’s Note: This goal defeats my soul, too. However, that’s because the image of Semyon Varlamov freezing so far away from the post before slowly collapsing into it — witnessed first-hand on the night in question — is forever burned into my memory.

The Fourth, Game-Winning Goal

Screw this. If that’s the fastest you can skate, Tyson Barrie, get out of this league. But,  because I know you can skate faster I can now blame you for the game winning goal.

Yes, there’s an egregious turnover by Gabriel Landeskog with a minute left, but that’s the point of defense! This isn’t, “I did my job poking the puck up the boards, I’m done.” This is the NHL, you do your job and you get your ass to the next spot so you don’t lose a hockey a game.

Tyson Barrie was so close to being in perfect position to prevent this game-winning goal. He just had to turn on the jets to get to the net in time. He did not — his skating is desultory.

Fifth Goal, Empty Net

Tyson Barrie was on the ice for the empty netter, whatever. Way to literally fall down on the job.

Next: Avs Solutions for the Blueline


Tyson Barrie is a great skater, he can move the puck, and he can put the puck in the back of the net. But the Colorado Avalanche have a lot of guys who can do those things already. What they are dearly lacking is guys who can play defensively.

Today we looked at an extremely small sample size, but the main flaws in each goal are things that have plagued Barrie through his time in the NHL: bad defensive fundamentals, bad positioning, and a lack of strength. Not to mention his questionable decision making, which leads to very avoidable turnovers.

If the Colorado Avalanche trade Tyson Barrie I’ll miss his cool goals and his slick passing. The Avs themselves will miss his offensive abilities and his touch with the puck.

I will still have players to complain about defensively. However, they won’t be making nearly as much money as Barrie will be next year. And they better be down the depth chart as well.