It took longer than either Tyson Barrie or the Colorado Avalanche may have wanted, but the two sides have come to an agreement on a four-year contract for the 25-year-old restricted free agent blueliner.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Sunday that Barrie has inked a four-year deal with an annual average salary of $5.5 million — a total of $22 million over the lifespan of the contract. The deal comes in shortly before Barrie was set to be awarded a contract through an arbitrator following an arbitration hearing between Barrie’s camp and the Avalanche on Friday.
It appears what it took for the deal to get done was Barrie giving in on term and the Avalanche showing wiggle room in terms of salary. When heading to arbitration, the reported ask by Barrie was a one-year, $6-million contract, while the Avalanche were seeking to ink Barrie to a two-year deal worth somewhere in the $4-million range per season.
Even with the contract signed, though, the question now becomes what Barrie’s future looks like in Colorado.
Barrie has long been the subject of trade rumors in Colorado, with some reports suggesting the Avalanche would be willing to move the defender in order to land a defenseman in return. The rumors were the Avalanche could potentially look for a defender with more two-way ability in exchange for Barrie, who is an excellent offensive defenseman but can sometimes make errors in his own end.
However, Colorado GM Joe Sakic addressed the Barrie trade talk ahead of the off-season by saying plainly that Barrie was going to remain with the Avalanche one way or another.
“I’d like to do a long-term deal with Tyson,” Sakic told the Denver Post’s Mike Chambers. “If that doesn’t work out, it’s expected he’ll go to arbitration. Either way, he’ll be here.”
Keeping Barrie in town is an excellent move for the Avalanche. The young rearguard offers much in the way of offensive punch from the back end, even if he does commit the occasional mistake. Over the past two seasons, Barrie is the seventh-highest scoring defenseman with 25 goals and 102 points in 158 games. Even at 5-on-5 Barrie has been an impact player, with only four defensemen — P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson — contributing more at even strength over the past two campaigns.
And while the contract may not be exactly the one the Avalanche were looking for, the $5.5-million cap hit is actually quite friendly and could be very team-friendly by the third and fourth years of the deal if Barrie continues to contribute the way he has over the past two seasons.
Arbitration cases are rarely easy, and no one can know what was said behind closed doors that could have been potentially damaging to the relationship between the two sides. That Barrie and the Avalanche were able to seemingly compromise is a positive sign, though.
Now all that’s left is for Barrie to prove that he is worth every penny of his new deal. Given the way he’s performed over the past few seasons, that shouldn’t be too tall a task.