To be completely honest with you folks, I didn’t think I was going to be writing this post.
A couple of weeks ago, the consensus around here was that the Oilers would thank Tyson Barrie for his productive season and that he would cash in on his one-year, show-me deal elsewhere on the free-agent market while the team retained Adam Larsson.
But life comes at you fast. Larsson is now a member of the Seattle Kraken and the Oilers are left with a gaping hole on the right side of their blueline. What now?
Back on Sunday, Frank Seravalli reported on the DFO Rundown that the Oilers and Larsson were unlikely to reach a deal and that there was a better chance that Barrie would stick around. Seravalli said that he believes Barrie enjoyed his time in Edmonton last season and sees himself as a good fit on the team moving forward.
That brings us to this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday THURSDAY EDITION question. Now that Larsson is gone, who becomes Edmonton’s target to fill the hole on the blueline? Is it Tyson Barrie? How high would you go on a new deal for Barrie?
Here’s what Edmonton’s blueline looks like right now…
Darnell Nurse – Ethan Bear
Duncan Keith – ???
Kris Russell – Evan Bouchard
Edmonton’s biggest hole on the blueline, of course, is the one left by Larsson on the right side of the second pairing. He has anchored the Oilers’ shutdown pairing for years and logged many tough minutes for the team, going up against top competition on a nightly basis. Ideally, Ken Holland can find somebody who’s capable of sliding right into Larsson’s role, but that’s easier said than done.
Dougie Hamilton is the best overall defender on the open market. He’s a right-handed shot and the Oilers have the cap space to fit him in, but there’s obviously no guarantee that he’s interested in coming back out west. There was speculation that Hamilton requested a trade out of Calgary due in part because he felt isolated on the team and he wanted to be closer to home.
After Hamilton, the next name that makes sense to fill this role would be David Savard, a right-handed shot who has many years of experience playing a shutdown role in Columbus. Savard was a deadline pickup by the Tampa Bay Lightning but logged just 14:07 per game during their Stanley Cup run. He isn’t as good as Larsson but is a fine fill-in that won’t break the bank.
And then we have Barrie, one of the top free-agent defenders on the open market, but for a different reason. Barrie is an excellent offensive producer. He came to Edmonton in 2021 after a tough season in Toronto and rebounded nicely, scoring eight goals and 48 points over the course of 56 games.
Barrie was a nice fit on the Oilers last season. He found chemistry alongside Darnell Nurse mid-way through the season and thrived playing with Edmonton’s top guns, serving as essentially a fourth forward in the offensive zone who could sling the puck around, find open room, and take effective shots from the point.
Now, the challenge with bringing Barrie back is that it doesn’t really address the hole left by Larsson. While Edmonton needs a veteran, right-handed defender, they badly need somebody who can anchor a defensive pairing. If Ethan Bear, Tyson Barrie, and Evan Bouchard are your three righties, it’s difficult to organize the lineup to feature such a pairing.
It’s also difficult to project what kind of deal Barrie is going to end up signing. With Larsson, we could look at recent comparables such as Chris Tanev and Brenden Dillon and pretty quickly come to the four-year, $4,000,000 deal he ultimately signed in Seattle. With Barrie, it’s a bit different.
You’d think he would be in line for a big contract given the fact he led all defencemen in scoring in 2021, but there seemed to be a prevailing sentiment that Barrie’s production was largely tied to spending so much time with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Barrie was the first defenceman ever to lead the league in scoring among defencemen and not receive a single Norris Trophy vote.
The best comparison I can find for Barrie in terms of an offensive defenceman who inked a free-agent deal during the COVID flat-cap era is Kevin Shattenkirk. Shattenkirk got bought out by the Rangers, signed a one-year, show-me deal with Tampa, scored 34 points in 70 games, and helped the team win the Stanley Cup. He then signed a three-year deal worth $3,900,000 annually in the off-season with the Ducks.
I think Barrie will earn more than Shattenkirk did, but that’s the ballpark I would be looking at if I’m Ken Holland. Though Barrie is a nice fit on the Oilers for the role that he plays, you can’t break the bank bringing him back because the team would still need a veteran, shutdown defender to replace the absence of Larsson.
What say you, Nation? Does Larsson leaving make you want to bring back Barrie more? How high would you go to get him signed to a new deal? Is there somebody else out there that’s a better fit? Let us know!
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