Many Toronto Maple Leafs fans have had their fair share of opinions about defenseman Tyson Barrie. The 28-year-old blueliner was drafted in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft 64th overall by the Colorado Avalanche. Barrie is currently in his ninth NHL season, eight of which with the Avalanche.
Barrie's time in Colorado cemented himself as a legitimate top-2 defensemen in the league. In 484 games he had 75 goals, 232 assists and 307 points, playing just over 21 minutes a night. Barrie also found himself in the postseason three times during his tenure in Colorado. In those three playoff runs Barrie played 21 games, and notched 14 points.
On July 31, 2016 Barrie signed a four-year, $22-million extension with the Avalanche, carrying a cap hit of five-point-five million dollars a year. On July 1, 2019 Barrie found himself packing his bags and heading to Toronto. The trade had Toronto moving 29-year-old centre Nazem Kadri. Also parting ways with the Leafs was defensemen Calle Rosen. In addition to the two players, the Leafs also threw in a 2020 third-round pick. The Avalanche dealt Barrie, Alexander Kerfoot, and a 2020 sixth-round pick. Colorado retained 50 per cent of Barrie's salary, making his cap hit $2.75-million for the Leafs.
Barrie had a rough start in Toronto. He couldn't seem to find his game until a coaching change happened on Nov. 20, 2019, when the Maple Leafs fired head coach Mike Babcock. Babcock was replaced by Toronto’s AHL coach Sheldon Keefe. Through the first 23 games of the season under Babcock Barrie struggled, racking only seven points, none of which being goals. The remaining 47 games Barrie put up five goals and 27 assists, netting him 32 points under Keefe.
Barrie has proven to be a top defensemen in the NHL. This begs the question; should Toronto re-sign him this offseason? Barrie’s current contract expires at the end of this season taking him to unrestricted free agency and he is due for a large payday. The Leafs currently have salary cap issues, with Barrie only taking up $2.75 million of the cap. Toronto also has to address expiring deals with Jason Spezza, Ilya Mikheyev and Travis Dermott. If the Leafs wanted to re-sign Barrie, they might have to look into moving one or two guys to free up cap space. Ultimately, it comes down to cap issues the Leafs are having, that would shut down any sort of Barrie extension.
Barrie hasn’t met his expectations in Toronto. He’s shown flashes of excellence offensively but also showed that he is a real liability defensively. Also the Leafs have a very similar player in Morgan Rielly, who is also two years younger than Barrie. It wouldn’t make sense to keep two similar players that don't solve the problem, especially when one has already shown more consistency. Toronto also re-signed Jake Muzzin to a four-year extension, insuring two of their top-4 defenseman for at least the next two seasons. What the Leafs need is a right-handed defensively minded defensemen. Barrie just doesn’t fit this team, so an extension wouldn’t warrant a roster shake-up.