Colorado had two key RFAs to deal with this offseason — Mikhail Grigorenko and Tyson Barrie.
The former inked a one-year, $1.3 million deal on Wednesday.
Which means all eyes are now on the latter.
Barrie, 24, just wrapped a two-year, $5.2 million deal — one that paid $2.6M annually — and figures to be in line for a hefty raise. Avs GM Joe Sakic has shot down trade rumors about Barrie, who’s been one of the league’s better offensive blueliners over the last two years with 53 points last season, and 49 this season.
But Sakic’s words haven’t exactly silenced the rumblings.
Barrie is represented by Newport Sports, the same agency that represents former Avs center Ryan O'Reilly. Back in 2014, the Avs filed for arbitration with O’Reilly, a case Morris said “we didn’t think we’d have to attend to,” suggesting the team was playing a dangerous game with a key young performer.
While the O’Reilly situation ended with him being traded to Buffalo, Barrie’s agent — Newport’s Don Meehan — insisted that wouldn’t affect current negotiations.
“We just view it as business, that’s all,” Meehan said in February, per the Denver Post. “We have a professional camaraderie with Joe [Sakic, Colorado’s GM] that is very good. We will have differences of opinion, but that’s fine. We want to be fully open and transparent about a process, and we have a good relationship with Joe.”
As you can imagine, Colorado is a difficult team to get a read on.
While there’s no denying Barrie’s value, the Avs suggested that nobody was untouchable on the current roster, especially after a year in which they disappointed by missing the playoffs.
In a emotional post-season wrap, head coach Patrick Roy said failing to make the postseason was “unacceptable” and lit into the club’s veterans, claiming “our core needs to show more leadership.”
Whether Barrie was one of those leaders in question was unclear. But things appeared to potentially look that way when, in early June, reports suggested the club was eyeballing Jets d-man Jacob Trouba.
Then, the Avs proceeded to remake their blueline. Nick Holden, who appeared in all 82 games last year, was sent to the Rangers at the draft. Shortly thereafter, veteran Brad Stuart was bought out of the final year of his contract.
In explaining those moves, Sakic told the Denver Post d-men Nikita Zadorov (21 years old), Chris Bigras (21) and ’11 first-round pick Duncan Siemens (22) will have “every opportunity to try and make this team.”
Sakic added that 25-year-old Eric Gelinas, acquired from New Jersey at last year’s trade deadline, is also in the mix for minutes.
As such, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what Colorado wants to do with Barrie.
Given he’s only 24, and a right-handed shot, and gifted offensively, he has tremendous value across the league. But would the Avs be able to upgrade if they dealt him? Or is keeping him around the smarter play?
There are just nine days left until Barrie’s arbitration hearing. Safe to say there’ll be plenty more rumblings in the meantime.