Colorado Avalanche: Frustration with Tyson Barrie

Mar 29, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie (4) skates with the puck as St. Louis Blues center Patrik Berglund (21) defends during the third period at Scottrade Center. The Blues won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 29, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie (4) skates with the puck as St. Louis Blues center Patrik Berglund (21) defends during the third period at Scottrade Center. The Blues won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

The Colorado Avalanche are facing salary arbitration with Tyson Barrie. Arbitration hearings are being held in Toronto July 20 to August 4.

Colorado Avalanche skater Tyson Barrie has filed for salary arbitration, and that makes me very frustrated.

Usually fans of a team over-value how much a player is worth. As in, “I’ll trade you John Mitchell for Sidney Crosby.” Ok, maybe not quite that extreme, but we do tend to put a high price on what our players are worth.

I feel like, unfortunately, the opposite is happening now. For some reason — 102 points in the last two seasons — practically every team wants a piece of defenseman Tyson Barrie, and that’s artificially inflating his worth.

Related Story: Barrie Should be Traded

Cap Space

The Colorado Avalanche don’t usually release figures when they’re negotiating with a player. We know that GM Joe Sakic met with Barrie’s agent at the NHL draft.

Because Barrie is filing for salary arbitration, that means the two sides must be far apart on their figures.

Barrie’s last contract was worth $5.2 million over two years with an annual average value of $2.6 million. However, last season he made $3.2 million.

When center Ryan O’Reilly filed for salary arbitration — we’ll get to that in a moment — the sticking point was that, while his contract had carried an AAV for $5 million, he’d made $6.5 million the second year. The Avalanche wanted to start from the $5 million figure, O’Reilly wanted to start from $6.5 million.

I’m going to guess the Colorado Avalanche have no problem starting from the $3.2 million figure — no one, not even me, is saying Barrie doesn’t deserve a healthy raise.

However, as General Fanager points out, the Avs don’t have a ton of wiggle room:

Colorado really needs another top-six forward, or at least a solid third liner. They also have to sign Mikhail Grigorenko so they don’t lose the Ryan O’Reilly trade (more on that in another post).

Colorado doesn’t have the cap space to overpay Barrie by, say, gifting him with Erik Johnson/Matt Duchene money.

Tyson Barrie as Fourth Forward

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Tyson Barrie is a good player with occasional flashes of greatness. However, some people are throwing out the word “elite” in conjunction with his play. Elite? Like Rob Blake/Ray Bourque elite? Or even Erik Karlsson/PK Subban elite?

Come on, even the most avid Colorado Avalanche fan isn’t going to put Barrie in that kind of company. Ok, some people will look at his small sample size — say those last two seasons — and say, “But Tyson Barrie has the 102 points (25 goals, 77 assists) as a defenseman.”

But that’s where it gets sticky. At best Tyson Barrie is just learning how to be a defenseman. He has no physicality, and he’s just learning how to get into position and get his stick in lanes.

In reality, Barrie is a rover, a throwback to a time period when there was a player who would rove around the ice trying to make offense happen.

At worst, Barrie is a forward just pretending to play defense. Let’s face it — many times, Matt Duchene plays better D than Barrie, and we all know that’s not exactly his forte.

Related Story: What is Barrie Worth?

If you’re looking at Barrie as a fourth forward, do 25 goals across two seasons really put him into elite company? Carl Soderberg put up similar numbers — 25 goals and 70 assists for 95 points. He makes $4.75 million a year.

I’d be fine with that kind of money for Tyson Barrie.

Yet Another Salary Arbitration

From a fan’s point of view, I’m extremely frustrated with Tyson Barrie and his salary arbitration. Ryan O’Reilly was bad enough. But he played better defense than Barrie, and his offensive value was legions more.

Figures flew around during the O’Reilly debacle. At one point, it was reported he was asking for $8 million — he eventually settled on a $7.5 million AAV.

“Sources” have been silent about this round of negotiations. People speculate on figures that range from my $4.5 million to $6.5 million.

Center and the future of the franchise, Nathan MacKinnon, just broke fellow center and face of the franchise Matt Duchene’s salary ceiling. His new contract carries an AAV of $6.3 million. Can Tyson Barrie really have the brass nuts to ask for more than that? Asking for more than Duchene is bad enough, but more than MacK as well?!?!

Also, why aren’t some of these good-sometimes-great-not-elite players more grateful to even have a job making millions doing what they love? If all they wanted was the payout, they should have gotten better at baseball than hockey.

What’s more, it’s a slap in the face to the team that even gave them a chance. Yes, Tyson Barrie is talented and works hard. Are you really telling me that in all of Canada, the US and Europe there’s not a player who’s equally talented but just wasn’t given the chance? Would this player not kill for a chance to play in the NHL?

Additionally, how can these players who are on losing teams — and if they’re so good, shouldn’t they be difference-makers — demand so much money? If Barrie is so much better than MacKinnon — or even Duchene or Johnson — then why didn’t he lead the team to more wins?

Why wasn’t he chosen for the World Cup of Hockey or even IIHF Worlds this last year? MacKinnon and Johnson were chosen for the World Cup, and Duchene got tapped for both.

Where’s Barrie’s Calder Tropy? Or even his Lady Byng?

I realize people are going to bring up market value — Barrie should get paid what the market is willing to support. However, I belong to the schoolyard thought process — what’s right is right, what’s fair is fair. The best players on the team should make the most money.

Tyson Barrie isn’t the best player on the Colorado Avalanche, so he doesn’t deserve to make the most money. And unless the team was actually offering less than he made last year — which I highly doubt — he should have graciously accepted the offer for a couple years and actually take the time to prove he deserves a higher payout.

Next: Avs with the Least Stanley Cup Attitude

But that’s what leaders like Duchene and Johnson do. And no one has ever accused Barrie of showing leadership.

So, yes, I’m very frustrated with Tyson Barrie for raking the team I love over the coals for an inflated sense of self worth — and money.