The Colorado Avalanche have inked another depth defenseman, this time re-signing Mark Barberio to a two-year contract. Barberio was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, after spending the last season and a half in Colorado. The deal will pay him $1.45MM per season, a substantial upgrade over the $700K he earned this year. GM Joe Sakic released a statement explaining the decision:
Mark has been a steady part of our blue line since joining the team and has helped solidify our defensive depth. He has played important minutes for us and has been a key penalty killer. We are pleased to have Mark under contract for the next two seasons.
Barberio came to the Avalanche originally in 2017 after being claimed off waivers from the Montreal Canadiens. Despite putting up positive possession statistics for Montreal, the team decided he was no longer necessary after acquiring Nikita Nesterov. That would turn out to be something of a mistake, as Nesterov would end up unqualified in the summer while Barberio became a regular for Colorado. Playing in 46 games this season, he registered 13 points, was a positive possession player and had the second-highest +/- rating of any Avalanche defender at +6.
It’s not clear exactly what Barberio’s role will be next season, as the Avalanche now have eight legitimate candidates for NHL spots under contract, not even counting Patrik Nemeth and Duncan Siemens who are both restricted free agents, or Conor Timmins who could impress in camp. For a team that was questioned thoroughly last offseason for their lack of NHL defensemen, the team seems to be building quite a pipeline this time around.
Barberio’s salary would suggest that he’ll be with the team in some capacity, which gives more credence to the idea that the Avalanche may be looking to trade some of their other defensemen. Even if they don’t, he’ll likely be asked to take a regular turn on the third pair and penalty kill unit in 2018-19.