By signing Tyson Barrie, the Oilers landed one of the most prominent (and polarizing) defensemen in 2020 NHL Free Agency. The Oilers announced that they signed Barrie to a one-year, $3.75 million contract.
(In other Oilers news, the team also brought back goalie Mike Smith for one year, $2M.)
TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports that Barrie, 29, left money on the table to join the Oilers. (Servalli reports that one offer included a $6M AAV.)
At face value, that seems like a questionable choice by Barrie, especially since the Oilers haven’t exactly reached their potential despite employing Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. But, then you realize that Tyson Barrie’s likely to quarterback a power play with McDavid and Draisaitl, and it sounds like he might take some short-term financial pain for long-term gains.
Really, it also sounds like it would be fun for Barrie, doesn’t it?
Oilers sign free agent defenseman Tyson Barrie
Heading into 2019-20, Tyson Barrie carried quite a bit more clout. While there were warnings about Barrie’s underlying numbers, he was a key part of the Avalanche – Maple Leafs trade that also featured Nazem Kadri.
To put things mildly, Barrie’s reputation took a hit over the last year or so.
No doubt about it, Barrie struggles in the defensive end. Yet, as you likely know, just about everything hockey-related can get blown out of proportion in Toronto.
In other words, the criticisms about Barie’s defensive game aren’t totally unfair. Instead, they might be amplified to the point that some assume Barrie has no value whatsoever.
Tyson Barrie, signed 1x$4M with EDM, is an offence-only right defenceman who's a liability defensively. #LetsGoOilers pic.twitter.com/aGUGvOdkiQ
— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) October 10, 2020
The truth is probably somewhere between the lows of 2019-20 and the mixed reactions (sometimes excessively positive) beforehand.
It’s also fair to mention that the Maple Leafs landed Barrie at a reduced rate, and the Oilers aren’t betting the house on him, either. Maybe that should dull expectations.
And maybe NHL GMs should also account for these feelings next off-season, after a possibly prolific season running the Oilers power play:
Barrie's gonna put up 65 points passing to McDavid and Drai on the PP and everyone will talk about what an impossible environment it is to play in Toronto. The Oilers will get outscored and make the playoffs because the Pacific has the depth of a puddle.https://t.co/ca4IpGsnPD
— Acting the Fulemin (@ATFulemin) October 10, 2020
While we await the results of the Alex Pietrangelo sweepstakes, the secondary defensemen market is shrinking. Barrie joins Torey Krug, T.J. Brodie, and Christopher Tanev as noteworthy defensemen who’ve signed recent deals.
After signing Barrie and Kyle Turris, the Oilers’ cap situation is snug. Although a possible Oscar Klefbom LTIR stint could open up space (and helps explain adding Barrie in the first place).
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.