With the trade deadline today and Tyson Barrie remaining a question mark, let’s take a look back on his brief but opinionated career with the team.
After another disappointing first-round exit at the hands of the Boston Bruins, it was clear the Leafs were lacking something. Nazem Kadri once again was suspended in the series after cross-checking Jake DeBrusk in game two. This left a big hole down the middle in which the buds weren’t able to overcome.
Heading into the 2018-19 off-season, it was no secret the Leafs were likely to move on from the longtime forward. Using him as the main piece in acquiring a top-four defenseman which they desperately needed. After using his no-move clause to decline a trade with the Calgary Flames, in which TJ Brodie was rumoured to be the main piece coming back, Kadri would be moved to the Colorado Avalanche.
The deal featured Kadri, Callie Rosen and a third-round pick going to Colorado in return for Tyson Barrie, Alexander Kerfoot, and a sixth-round pick. The Avalanche would also retain 50 percent of Barrie’s salary in an effort to leave the Leafs with some wiggle room under the salary cap.
First I want to take a look at the deal itself. I think without looking at the pieces involved and putting all bias aside it was a good trade for both sides. Colorado was getting a second-line center in his prime with two 30 goal seasons under his belt already. While the Leafs were getting a top-four right-handed defenseman who had shown that he was capable of playing big minutes and a third-line center.
On a fundamental level, this trade seems like there was solid value for both sides. It was clear Kadri was too good to play behind Auston Matthews and John Tavares and needed to be moved to a team where he would play in the top-six. Barrie, on the other hand, had his name in the rumour mill for what seemed like years at this point.
Now that I have stated that on a fundamental level Kyle Dubas made a very good hockey trade I would like to say I absolutely hate this trade for the Leafs. From the moment the Leafs acquired Barrie I thought it wasn’t a good fit. While the Leafs just acquired an elite offensive defenseman, it was clear offense wasn’t the issue.
Morgan Rielly was just coming off a 72 point season, including a league-high 20 goals by a defenseman. The problem is this team can’t fight their way out of a wet paper bag in their own end. The team needed someone stable, think in the same vein as another Jake Muzzin.
I wasn’t asking for a big, hard-hitting defenseman who would crush anyone who entered the zone. Just someone who can make a solid first pass and knows how to use some damn gap control.
I understand where Dubas was coming from, hell I think the original deal in which the Leafs acquired Brodie would have massively improved the team. Throw in the fact that Kerfoot has played better than I think anyone could have expected and I can’t fault the man. It’s just I feel like this team with Kadri would have been just as weak in their own end as they are with Barrie.
Now onto the question at hand, what should the Leafs do with Barrie come this deadline? Really there are only three options. The first option is the team decides to hold on to Barrie in hopes that once Rielly returns to the lineup their top-four will be good enough to go deep in the playoff with Barrie walking this off-season. Option two is the team understands that this year isn’t the year and decide to focus on trying to work out a deal to keep Barrie past this year in hopes that when the team is healthy they can compete next season. The final option I believe could potentially be the best, yet hardest to pull off. Trade Barrie to another team for a different defenseman.
As I stated I feel Barrie just isn’t a fit on this current roster and I would look to move him for a defenseman swap. However, this is easier said than done. First, you would need to find a team that is trying to win this year and okay with the potential of Barrie walking this offseason in free agency. Second, you would have to find a team that has defensemen that could fit the Leafs needs but also are expendable for the other team.
It’s a tough task to ask of any general manager because it’s such a hard, unique trade situation. However, I think I might have found one team where this trade proposal could work out for both teams. The team I am talking about is the St. Louis Blues and the player is Colton Parayko.
I know what you are going to say already. Why would the Blues want to trade a young top-four defenseman under contract for a player who could leave this off-season? This is the exact reason why I could see this as a fit for both teams. It gives the Blues the thing they need the most, cap space.
Alex Pietrangelo is in need of a new deal, I’ll say it again, the captain of the current regaining Stanley Cup Champions deal is up. We are talking about a player who could get as much as 9-10 million a year on the open market. I just can’t see a situation in which Pietrangelo isn’t suiting up with the Blues next season.
This is where Parayko comes in. Currently signed until the 2021-22 season at a cap hit of 5.5 million it’s clear that his salary is enough to give their captain a nice raise from his current cap hit of 6.5 million.
By acquiring Barrie it gives you another top-four defenseman who can play and help you compete for the cup this postseason. While also allowing you to let him walk, leaving you with enough to sign Pietrangelo to a nice new shiny deal. Obviously, I’m not suggesting that a Barrie for Parayko deal is enough to get the deal done for the Leafs but it’s a good starting point.
Like the Colorado deal, I feel that on a fundamental level this works for both teams. The Leafs acquire a player who can help them in their own end, while the Blues still get a player who could help them deep into the postseason and the cap space come this offseason.
The trade proposal isn’t perfect and I’ll admit I’m grasping at straws trying to find a fit for this team but I think there is something there. Hopefully, Dubas sees something similar this deadline or the team might have a lot more to worry about than just going deep in the playoffs.