Tyson Barrie chooses Oilers on show-me contract

Justin Cuthbert
·2-min read
TORONTO, ONTARIO - AUGUST 07: Tyson Barrie #94 of the Toronto Maple Leafs prepares to play in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Qualification Round against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Scotiabank Arena on August 07, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - AUGUST 07: Tyson Barrie #94 of the Toronto Maple Leafs prepares to play in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Qualification Round against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Scotiabank Arena on August 07, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

There are worse ways to recoup some value.

In what was supposed to be his opportunity to cash in on several seasons of high-end production from the blue line, free-agent defenseman Tyson Barrie has signed a one-year deal with the Edmonton Oilers worth a little less than $4 million, according to various reports.

Barrie’s value plummeted over the last 12 months — in part due to the financial squeeze on NHL clubs, but mostly for his inconsistent and underwhelming season with the Toronto Maple Leafs following an ill-fitting trade from the Colorado Avalanche.

Reports suggest that there were other more lucrative offers on the table for Barrie, but it seems he still has designs on a striking it rich in free agency down the line. Teaming up with the two highest-scoring players in the league last season in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl as the new quarterback on the Oilers’ power play, Barrie is in a strong position to pile up the production, and tell a far better story in free agency next summer.

Barrie simply did not fit Make Babcock’s ideal at the start of last season with the Leafs, and his performance suffered tremendously for it. While he was in a better spot once Sheldon Keefe took over for the legendary coach, and his play definitely improved, Barrie was in over his head at times at even strength on an incomplete blue line, and just didn’t have the same impact as Morgan Rielly has had in previous seasons with the Leafs’ No. 1 special teams.

Barrie finished with a respectable five goals and 39 points in 70 games, but stands to improve on those numbers tremendously as the replacement for the absent Oscar Klefbom as the orchestrater on Edmonton’s top power play.

Oilers GM Ken Holland signalled this as an area of need when he traded for Mike Green at the deadline last season. Unfortunately Green opted out of the return to play, and the Oilers were left without an option to run the power play in their disappointing play-in round exit.

The addition adds to an impressive haul from the Oilers in free agency. The club has added Kyle Turris, Tyler Ennis, and now Barrie, while also agreeing to terms to bring back Jesse Puljujarvi — all for less than $8 million against the salary cap.

As for what’s ahead, Edmonton still needs to acquire a netminder before the end of free agency after missing out on Jacob Markstrom.

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