The Edmonton Oilers and defenceman Tyson Barrie are inching closer to a multi-year contract that would keep the rearguard from free agency, TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported Tuesday night.
Rumours have been swirling around Barrie and the Oilers following the loss of Adam Larsson. Reports have suggested the Oilers were looking for a three-year deal, while Barrie wanted four.
Barrie scored a defenceman-leading 48 points last year but didn’t garner a single Norris Trophy vote becoming the first defenceman in the awards 67-year history.
A dynamic puck mover who’s known much more for his offensive prowess than play in his own zone, I struggle to see the benefit in this deal. The Oilers know what Tyson Barrie is, and that’s not a defenceman who provides much value in that zone.
Advertisement
Ad
If the Oilers plan to play Barrie on the top pairing with Darnell Nurse and staple that pairing to Connor McDavid, that’s fine, but Barrie dragged down the Oilers captain with him on the ice.
When McDavid’s on the ice with Barrie at 5×5, the Oilers control 55.07 percent of the goal share and 51.03 percent of the expected goal share. A solid clip that you would like to see.
When McDavid’s on the ice without Barrie at 5×5, the Oilers control 60.47 percent of the goals and 64.85 percent of the expected goals — a significantly more impressive clip.
Maybe the most important part of all, McDavid’s goals against rate drops from 3.34 GA/60 with Barrie on the ice, to 2.68 GA/60 without Barrie on the ice. That’s a monumental shift in terms of how many goals the Oilers are allowing on the ice.
Advertisement
Ad
There’s value in a player like Barrie on many NHL teams. Teams love right-shot defenceman who can move the puck and quarterback a powerplay, but I’m just not sold he’s the right fit for the Edmonton Oilers moving forward.
The Oilers problem last season wasn’t scoring goals — they scored the ninth most 5×5 goals per game with 115. The problem remained that the Oilers still needed to improve their defensive play. At 5×5, the Oilers allowed 116 goals, the 21st most in the league.
Bringing in Tyson Barrie on what will likely be a multi-year contract all the while losing Adam Larsson — their best defensive defenceman on the team — in free agency isn’t a recipe for success in generating more 5×5 defence.
Advertisement
Ad
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Oilers appear to be in the mix for Cody Ceci, too. While his play in his own zone has improved since he left the Ottawa Senators, he still is far from a great defenceman and still has his warts.
Ceci, too, is a right-shot defenceman and may mark the writing on the wall for Ethan Bear’s time in Edmonton to come to an end. Ken Holland has vocalized his desire for Evan Bouchard to be an everyday defenceman, and if the Oilers re-sign Barrie and bring in Ceci, it makes it hard to imagine a place for Bear on the backend moving forward.
The hope is Barrie signs for very cheap and not for a long time, because his skill set is very similar to that of Evan Bouchard in terms of his offensive ability and ability to quarterback a powerplay. The only difference being that Bouchard is a much more well-rounded defensive player from what we’ve seen in his climb from juniors to the AHL, and that he can kill penalties.
Advertisement
Ad

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at [email protected]