Colorado Avalanche: Analyzing the Mark Barberio Waiver Claim

Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports /

The Colorado Avalanche recently claimed Mark Barberio off waivers from the Montreal Canadiens, and it’s time to delve a little deeper into this move.

The Colorado Avalanche need help on the blueline like “Ham” Porter from Sandlot needs help from the lifeguard — in other words, it’s desperate.

Obviously they just claimed Mark Barberio off waivers to sate that desperate need for help, and today it’s time to analyze that move.

Barberio hasn’t played many games at the NHL level, but he has shown a lot of potential at the AHL level. He is classed as a puck-moving defenseman with a lot of offensive upside, yet those skills haven’t transitioned to the NHL level yet.

Nonetheless, his underlying numbers suggest that he pushes the play well, and is a catalyst in possession numbers as well as offensive chances. So, what can the Avs expect from Barberio?

Barberio is a Fringe Bottom-Pairing Defenseman

Mark Barberio is by no means going to rocket himself into a top-pairing role on the Avalanche blueline, but he is certainly more reliable than Eric Gelinas.

And, it seems like that is the reason they acquired Barberio to begin with. Shortly after acquiring Barberio on waivers, the Avs placed Gelinas on waivers themselves.

Both are left-shooting defenseman, and both are supposed to be offensive producers. Gelinas has failed in that category, but Barberio — even with a lack of offensive production at the NHL level — is still reliable from a possession standpoint. In 26 games with the Canadiens he had a 55.1 Corsi-for percentage.

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Granted, he started most of his shifts in the offensive zone, and only averaged 13:30 of ice time at even strength. Nonetheless, the kid seems to be a good fit for possession driving numbers as long as he is not asked to do too much — more on that here.

Thus, Barberio would seem to be a good fit on the bottom pairing for the Avs. However, Patrick Wiercioch also had some enticing underlying possession numbers, and he has not been great for the Avs this year.

The good thing is, Barberio is a waiver claim, and the Avs can afford to take a risk on him at this point in their season. They aren’t going to get any worse right, so why not take a chance?

What Will Barberio Offer the Avs Down the Stretch?

Perhaps the most intriguing part of the Barberio waiver claim is the fact that if he plays 14 more games this season for the Avs, they can make him available in the expansion draft.

According to, the Avs are required to expose: “One defenseman who is a) under contract in 2017-18 and b) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.

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With Francois Beauchemin’s no-movement clause, the Barberio signing makes a lot of sense. Now, if the Avs are able to move Francois Beauchemin, then they have another defenseman they can expose. Which would of course allow the Avs to protect some more valuable defensive assets.

This season is a bust, that much is clear, so it’s not like the Avs picked up Barberio to help the outcome of this season. But, his acquisition could be a real smart move for the future if they are able to deal Beauchemin.

Joe Sakic is still a long way from making the moves necessary to secure this team’s future, but this was a good start.

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And, who knows, maybe the kid will be worth hanging onto. At this point though, he seems to simply be an option for expansion draft availability in the service of protecting more valuable pieces.


The Colorado Avalanche are in for a tough couple of years, but moves like this one can make fans hopeful for the future. It’s a simple move, it’s small, but the impact it could have on the future is significant.

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Barberio is not going to come in and fix all the problems the Avs have on the blueline. However, he could provide some flexibility this summer when tough decisions need to be made because of the expansion draft.

All-in-all, this was a smart move by the Avalanche, and if anything, he’ll be a more reliable option on the bottom pairing than Gelinas.

Here’s to hoping that the moves the Avs make in the next month are more significant than this one. Nonetheless, this was a good start for the Avs.