After all of the speculation surrounding the “contentious” relationship between the Colorado Avalanche and defenseman Tyson Barrie and the drama of the summer’s only arbitration decision, it seems as thought the two sides were able to agree to a deal just in time. Elliotte Friedman reports that Barrie has re-signed with Colorado, before the arbitration decision was handed down, for four years and $22MM.
The $5.5MM cap hit that the new extension carries falls, as expected, in the middle of the competing offers made to the arbitrator. The Avalanche had asked for a two-year contract worth $8.25MM ($4.125MM cap hit), while Barrie’s camp countered with a one year and $6MM. The eventual compromise falls closer the value that Barrie was hoping for, and based on a trend of preferential treatment towards players in NHL arbitration, is likely close to what would have been awarded. Instead of waiting for the one or two year arbitration deal and risking having to give Barrie another raise soon, the Avalanche were instead smart to finally agree to a new deal for a longer term.
The $5.5MM cap hit is in no way over-payment by Colorado. Having just turned 25, Barrie has put together three straight seasons of strong offensive production at a young age. He can be counted on for double-digit goals and 40+ assists each season and has not had any durability issues despite a modest 5’10” 190-lb. frame. The $5-$6MM is just the going rate for small, fast, puck-moving defenseman, as evidenced by Barrie and the earlier deals this summer handed out to Torey Krug ($5.25MM) and Alex Goligoski ($5.475). The signing puts the Avalanche less than a million dollars from the $73MM salary cap limit, but with a full roster and no more restricted free agents to sign, it seems as though Colorado should be ready to go for the 2016-17 season without much worry about the cap.
What could have been an ugly situation in Denver has been avoided, as both sides should be happy with the extension and looking forward to four more years of production. If Barrie continue to put up 50-odd points a season from the blue line, the Avalanche will never regret giving in to the deal they signed today.