Colorado Avalanche: What is Tyson Barrie Worth?

Apr 3, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie (4) controls the puck in the first period against the St. Louis Blues at the Pepsi Center. The Blues defeated the Avalanche 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 3, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie (4) controls the puck in the first period against the St. Louis Blues at the Pepsi Center. The Blues defeated the Avalanche 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

The Colorado Avalanche need to sign their restricted free agent, defenseman Tyson Barrie. How much and for what term might the team offer?

Colorado Avalanche offensive defenseman Tyson Barrie is about to become a restricted free agent. He’s coming off of a two-year contract with a cap hit of $2.6 million.

Last season Barrie played in 78 games and earned 49 points (13 goals, 36 assists). He was a -16. The previous season he earned 53 points (12 goals, 41 assists) in 80 games and was a +5.

Teams don’t discuss contract negotiations. However, the rumor mill has the Colorado Avalanche actively shopping Tyson Barrie around. Whether that’s true or not remains to be seen. To be honest, if the Avs move him, it will probably be right before the NHL draft so they can include some draft picks.

It’s also said that Tyson Barrie could be heading for arbitration. If that’s the case, I’ll revise this post at a later date. Until then, let’s operate thinking the Colorado Avalanche are going to sign Barrie — and just figure out what that contract may look like.

Related Story: Barrie to the Coyotes?

Colorado Avalanche Salary Structure

The Colorado Avalanche have an internal structure. If you don’t know about it by now, it’s pretty simple. It’s based on the idea that no one can make more than the team’s best player, Matt Duchene, whose contract has an average annual value of $6 million.

On the face of it, that seems pretty straightforward. The best player should earn the best money, right? Indeed, that’s how head coach Patrick Roy explained it — that it’s ever been so and he heard such explanations in his playing days.

The Colorado Avalanche have stayed pretty true to this structure. The other core players cozy up to that ceiling salary without surpassing it. Captain Gabriel Landeskog‘s AAV is $5.571 million and goalie Semyon Varlamov‘s is $5.9 million. Starting next season defenseman Erik Johnson will match Duchene at $6 million.

Players who have sought to break that ceiling don’t stick around. Center Paul Statny was allowed to leave in free agency and sign a contract with an AAV of $7 million with the St. Louis Blues. Center Ryan O’Reilly reportedly asked for $8 million. He got traded to the Buffalo Sabres, where he signed a contract extension that will eventually carry an AAV of $7.5 million.

That’s not to say the salary structure is static. Indeed, it’s believed center Nathan MacKinnon will be the one to shatter it — if not with his upcoming contract than with the one after.

Enter Tyson Barrie.

Related Story: Is Trading Barrie Beneficial?

Defensemen Similar to Tyson Barrie

It’s so hard to quantify defensemen. Their main job should be defense, but quite often defensemen are judged by offensive production. Since I’m not a wiz with advanced stats, I’m going to stick to the standard ones for purposes of this post.

Let’s look at offensive production, especially since Tyson Barrie’s especially known for that. If you look over the last two years, Barrie is seventh among defensemen for scoring.

In order, Erik Karlsson (148 points) of the Ottawa Senators, Brent Burns (135 points) of the San Jose Sharks and Kris Letang (121 points) of the Pittsburgh Penguins are the top three. Here’s the AAV of their current contracts:

  • Erik Karlsson: $6.5 million
  • Brent Burns: $5.76 million
  • Kris Letang: $7.25 million

It’s noteworthy that Karlsson is the captain of the Senators and a two-time Norris Trophy winner (probably three-time after this year) for defenseman of the year. Burns and Letang are currently battling it out for the Stanley Cup. Letang already has a Cup.

In those two years, Barrie has 102 points. Right before him is Mark Giordano (104), captain of the Calgary Flames. He’ll be making $6.75 million starting next season, though he’s coming off a contract with an AAV of $4 million.

Right after Barrie is John Kingberg (98 points) of the Dallas Stars. He’s young like Barrie — 23. His contract carries an AAV of $4.25 million.

If you look at just the last season, here are the players who were right around Barrie in points and their contracts’ AAV:

Admittedly that’s a wide range of skills and talent in that grouping.

Related Story: Barrie Needs to be Traded

What is Tyson Barrie Worth?

Professional sports contracts are the same as anything else — their worth is dependent on market value.

Tyson Barrie is small (5-foot-10, 190 pounds) in a big man’s league. He’s offensively talented, but his defense is under-developed. He’s a right-hand shot, which is often sought after in the NHL.

What makes a big difference is that teams really want him. Practically every team in the NHL sees him as the answer to their scoring problems. That makes his value go up.

As we see with the players above, their salaries range from $4 million to $7.25 million. Frankly, Barrie isn’t as accomplished over the course of his career as any of those top-paid players. He’s working on it, though.

I’ve already stated I think his worth is in the $5 million neighborhood. He may put up a few more points than a Hedman or a Shattenkirk, but he’s not a Norris Trophy winner or Stanley Cup finalist — he’s not on that elite of a level.

Barrie has the same representation as Ryan O’Reilly, and that agency is known for being rapacious. (Which I guess is good if you’re a player, not great for teams or fans.) For all I know that faction could be asking for $7 million in the hopes of signing for $6.5.

Unfortunately, as we see with Stastny and O’Reilly, teams are willing to overpay sometimes to fill a need. The Avalanche, however, are not. I firmly believe they see MacKinnon breaking the ceiling and no one else. I’m fine with that, even if it means taking Barrie to arbitration and eventually losing him.

I think the way the Colorado Avalanche can sign Tyson Barrie is if they offer him term. Maybe they can offer him a $38-40 million contract spread out over seven years. They could tie some of that in with performance bonuses. That would give Barrie an AAV around $5.5 million, though it could vary by the year.

Colorado has shown willing to make such offers. Indeed, Duchene himself signed long-term, as did Landeskog and Johnson.

Next: Barrie Unlikely to be Traded

Now it’s just a matter of whether Tyson Barrie is willing to accept such an offer.

What do you think Tyson Barrie is worth?