As it is with most teams who make a surprising turnaround from one year to the next, the Colorado Avalanche, fresh off one of the worst seasons in recent memory, may not even be a seller this time around at the NHL Trade Deadline. The 2017-18 season has gone much better for the Avs, with their play of late – a convincing eight-game winning streak – pulling them into the playoff picture. Of course, the team also already made a major deal earlier in the year, netting three prospects and three quality draft picks for Matt Duchene. With that impressive return already in the bag and the team rolling on all cylinders, it seems unlikely that Colorado would still resort to trading away valuable players over the next month. That even includes, in the opinion of The Hockey News’ Matt Larkin, polarizing defenseman Tyson Barrie.
Next to Duchene, Barrie was easily the next man up on the trade block for the Avalanche and, if this season was anything like 2016-17, he may have already been traded. Barrie, 26, is a gifted offensive blue liner who plays major minutes for Colorado and is depended on for much of their puck movement. However, he often struggles in his own end and there are questions as to whether he could ever really be a top pairing defenseman, despite his ample $5.5MM salary. In fact, that exact argument was reportedly part of former head coach Patrick Roy’s sudden departure from the team in 2016. It still feels like Barrie, who is currently on injured reserve, has yet to really carve out a comfortable, long-term role in Denver, which has led to much speculation that he could be moved. Around the league, there is less skepticism and many teams would love to add his offensive touch.
However, those teams will likely have to wait until the off-season for him to become available again. Larkin believes that the Avs’ recent play and lack of depth on defense has all but eliminated the chance that Barrie would be moved by the Trade Deadline. Behind Barrie, Erik Johnson, and young Nikita Zadorov, the rest of the Colorado blue line is made up of uninspiring names like Patrik Nemeth, Mark Barberio, Anton Lindholm, and David Warsofsky. Removing Barrie from that mix, even if a stopgap defender was part of the return, would hurt Colorado’s chances of making the playoffs. It seems like a move that Joe Sakic, who has stood by Barrie, would not make at this time.
With that said, Larkin acknowledges that Samuel Girard, one of the new pieces acquired for Duchene, has looked good and is deserving of more ice time and also notes that 2017 selections Cale Makar and Conor Timmins look like they will be surefire NHLers in no time. Barrie could certainly be moved sooner rather than later, to make room for the youth and to address the Avs’ lack of forward depth, but the soonest will likely be this off-season unless Sakic is blown away by an offer which has a long-term benefit worth sacrificing playoff hopes this season. Not too many blockbusters like that come around in-season, especially two in one year for the same team, so Barrie is likely safe and can soon return to the Avalanche lineup to help continue the team’s miraculous turnaround.