Free Agent Profile: Tyson Barrie, Two-Way, Scoring Defenseman

Tyson Barrie is set to become an unrestricted free agent. (Photo via JOHN E. SOKOLOWSKI-USA TODAY SPORTS)

The Toronto Maple Leafs are in a bizarre situation. The team seems good, but never good enough to win it all for a fan base that has been impatiently waiting since the late 1960s for another Stanley Cup. The team once again failed to win it all while millions upon millions are dished out to their players. With the NHL salary cap remaining flat for the next season, the Maple Leafs find themselves in a troubling spot.

That means unrestricted free agent Tyson Barrie is all but certain to walk in free agency. Barrie was acquired last year as part of the trade that saw Nazem Kadri head to the Colorado Avalanche. It was a somewhat off-year for Barrie, who saw a decline in overall points. That should be no reason for panic, as Barrie was misused by former Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock in the early part of the season.

Who Is Tyson Barrie?

That might sound like an ill-advised question, but it’s one I had to ask myself. Barrie spent the overwhelming majority of his career in the Western Conference on a bad Colorado Avalanche team. Remember, it was not until around 2018 the Avalanche started to become the powerhouse they are now.

That means for most of his career I’ve payed little thought to the idea of Barrie coming to the New Jersey Devils. Thankfully there was a very good article from “Last Word on Sports” to get us acquainted.

High Scoring Defenseman

The Devils need help on defense, make no mistake about it. Tyson Barrie can be described as a high scoring defenseman instead of a stay-at-home, defensive defenseman. For now, Damon Severson has been playing the role of the offensive-producing defenseman.

Damon Severson has been the New Jersey Devils best defenseman for the past couple seasons. (Photo via Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Barrie would be an immediate upgrade, since his 39 points last season would have placed him third on the list of Devils’ scorers in the shortened season. There’s still a place for Severson, but having two point producers from the blue line is never a bad thing.

Then there is a potential conflict is Ty Smith. Ty Smith is advertised to be everything Tyson Barrie is, plus maybe a bit more. Smith is also younger, cheaper, and under team control. No doubt that Tyson Barrie can help the Devils, but at what cost? Maybe the front office will try to use the money it could spend on Barrie to address other areas of the team.

Power Play Quarterback

One of Tyson Barrie’s biggest strength is his work on the power play. The “Last Word On Sports” article called him an “offensive power play quarterback.” Considering the Devils terrible power play last season the skills that Barrie could bring are certainly needed. The Devils finished 21st in the NHL on power play percentage last year, and that was after an increase in effectiveness after Alain Nasredinne took over.

Newly minted assistant coach Mark Reechi is expected to bolster the power play. Imagine what could be accomplished with Tyson Barrie? Having him and Ty Smith on the power play would be a great one-two punch, and certainly better than over-relying on Damon Severson and P.K. Subban. Signing Tyson Barrie will not solve all of New Jersey’s problems, but it will solve a lot on the man advantage.

Let’s Talk About The Money

Tyson Barrie’s current cap hit is $5,500,000 per season. That puts him in the salary range of just above Kyle Palmieri, but considerably below P.K. Subban. After leaving Toronto, Barrie is going to want a pay increase, but just how much?

In the “Last Word On Sports” article, a team’s ability to win was listed as something that might affect Barrie’s decision on where to sign. With the Devils still rebuilding that might cast them out, but the same article said that might be overlooked for a bigger contract.

In translation, Barrie might come if the Devils are willing to overpay. Although we haven’t speculated numbers New Jersey would have to pay way beyond Barrie’s worth to even be worth a glance.

Are teams willing to do that? Like we said before, Barrie won’t solve all of the Devils problems. Is the impending price tag worth the problems that he can solve?

Remember last summer when the Florida Panthers thought a goaltender was their biggest need and spent $10 million on Sergei Bobrovsky? The Panthers ended this year failing to qualify for the playoffs. Meanwhile, Bobrovsky’s bank account is still $10 million richer.

The New Jersey Devils should want Tyson Barrie. New Jersey is going to have the walk tight rope of “is this worth it” when extending a contract offer. Overpaying by a little bit is understandable, but it has to be in reason. Just think, a Devils’ defense with the likes of Barrie, Ty Smith, and Kevin Bahl a few years down the round does sound nice.


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