Joel Dorcas | March 27th, 2020
The Toronto Maple Leafs brought in 28-year-old rearguard Tyson Barrie just this past off-season to bolster their group of defensemen. Barrie who had spent his entire career in Colorado up to that point built up a very good resume after eight seasons in the league. With things souring in Leaf land, Barrie is almost certain to hit the open market when free agency commences on July 1st. Despite enduring one of his more unproductive seasons, Barrie is likely to garner plenty of interest this summer from multiple teams. Let’s take a closer look at Victoria BC native Tyson Barrie.
It’s difficult to pinpoint why the Leafs couldn’t get consistency out of Barrie this season. Barrie was averaging anywhere from 19 to 23 minutes a game under then-head coach Mike Babcock. October was rough, Barrie registered just five assists in 14 games. The subsequent months went marginally better. By the time February and March rolled around Barrie was hovering around the 25-minute mark under the watchful eye of new bench boss Sheldon Keefe. Despite the heavy employment, production was just average, nine assists in 19 games.
As the trade deadline approached, the Leafs considered moving the talented offensive -defenseman. Because of the rash of injuries, especially at defense, the Leafs hand was forced to hold on to Barrie as he would be leaned upon heavily to lead this group of mostly inexperienced players.
Most NHL analysts don’t see a situation where the Maple Leafs include Tyson Barrie in their future plans. Cap-space, playing style, younger players getting more exposure (20 year-olds, Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin) all play into the decision. Without Barrie, providing Sandin and Liljegren can make the leap, the Leafs will have a healthy Morgan Rielly and newly signed Jake Muzzin firmly in place. This leaves them to fill out the depth chart by signing RFA Travis Dermott and/or UFA Cody Ceci. They can also explore other options via trade or free agency.
The timing of Barrie’s off-year isn’t ideal. Before this season he has scored at least 12 goals five times and 30 assists six times. Just a season ago(2017/2018) he was very productive, 14 goals, 45 assists(59 pts) in 78 games for the Colorado Avalanche. It was around that time when Barrie was searching for a deal in the neighborhood of $8 M per season. Despite the down year in Toronto, this kind of contract is still very much in play. The likelihood of the Maple Leafs retaining his services however is much less likely.
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Main Image Credit:Embed from Getty Images