Early Wednesday morning it was reported that the Colorado Avalanche and Tyson Barrie have exchanged arbitration numbers in advance of their hearing scheduled for Friday. Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet tells us that the the team has offered a two-year deal worth a total of $8.25MM, while Barrie’s camp has countered with a one-year, $6MM pact.
Barrie has played parts of five seasons already for the Avalanche, after being selected in the third-round of the 2009 draft and putting up impressive numbers in the AHL. His offensive game has been excellent since his debut, scoring 153 points in 264 games.
Last year, Barrie saw a slight dip in point production and a huge swing in plus/minus, ending with a -16 rating, third worst on the team (behind Jarome Iginla and Erik Johnson). There have been detractors of Barrie’s defensive game for his entire career, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to improve a ton at this point.
Barrie does, however, have solid possession stats because of his deftness with the puck. He is a breakout machine when he does recover the puck in his own end, and can anchor a powerplay on any team. His 18 assists with the man-advantage led his team by a wide margin, and put him among the league leaders.
For what it’s worth, Barrie’s name has been bandied in trade (or offer sheet) speculation all summer, with some thinking that Colorado may not want to pay him what he’ll earn in arbitration. His $6MM ask is a big one, which would equal Erik Johnson as the team’s highest paid defenseman.
2015-16: 78 GP, 13 G, 36 A, 49 P, 23:12 ATOI, -17 rating
Career: 264 GP, 40 G, 113 A, 153 P, 21:06 ATOI, -7 rating
Dougie Hamilton (Calgary) – Hamilton avoided arbitration before last season by signing a huge six-year, $34.5MM ($5.75MM AAV) deal on June 30th, a deal that is surely Barrie’s target in negotiations. Hamilton had played in less games, had lower production, but was a full three years younger than Barrie is now, and had been a top-ten pick. While Hamilton’s 6’5″ frame doesn’t compare very well, the deal for a puck moving offensive d-man does.
Nick Leddy (Islanders) – Leddy is a more age-appropriate comparison, and the Islander blueliner re-signed last season for a seven-year $38.5MM ($5.5MM AAV) deal that will keep him in Brooklyn (or Queens, or Nassau) for the long-term. Leddy had more games under his belt but trailed in production, only reaching 40 points for the first time this past year. He was, however, a possession-driving force similar to Barrie, and was coming off a season which garnered him Norris votes.
T.J. Brodie (Calgary) – Brodie didn’t have the same track record when he signed his five-year, $23.25MM deal before last season, but he was coming off a year similar to Barrie’s latest. Brodie is seen as a better two-way defender, but doesn’t have quite the offensive flair, which may be why his AAV of $4.65MM comes in well under the other two examples despite still being a very valuable member of the Flames’ back-end.
With the two sides nearly $2MM apart, it’s indicative of the reported distance in negotiations thus far. While no other player has actually reached a hearing this summer, Barrie might be the first to leave his award in the hands of an arbitrator. If a long-term deal is struck, Barrie might consider taking something around $4.75MM per season, but if it heads to a hearing it’s hard to believe the arbitrator will award anything less than $5MM.
With Barrie ranking just outside the top-10 in defenseman scoring across the last three seasons, he’ll point to the huge deals that the rest of his comparables have signed, and demand something in-line with those contracts. We project a one-year, $5.25MM award from the arbitrator should the sides not be able to come to an agreement.