It’s no secret that Toronto Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello has been working the trade phones for a right-shooting, top four defenceman to add to the Leafs’ blue line. Multiple reports from well connected insiders like TSN Bob McKenzie and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman have indicated that Lamoriello and the Leafs are scouring the NHL for the right fit.
By now, we’ve all heard the names. Erik Gudbranson and Chris Tanev from the Vancouver Canucks. Mike Green from the Detroit Red Wings. Jacob Trouba from the Winnipeg Jets. In his latest 31 Thoughts podcast for Sportsnet, Friedman throws another name into the rumour mix: Colorado Avalanche blue liner Tyson Barrie.
The Avs just recently put together 10 consecutive wins without the injured Barrie in the lineup, leading to speculation that the team may be better off without him in the lineup. “The future of Tyson Barrie there… they’re winning without him, does that factor into decisions there”, asked Friedman’s co-host Jeff Marek.
“The Leafs have had interest in Tyson Barrie before, there’s no question about that,” replied Friedman. “I don’t know if it was this summer or a year ago, but I do think that there are going to be teams that ask Colorado, ‘what’s going on with Tyson Barrie here?’.”
“Speaking of Barrie, he took the morning skate in a non-contact jersey in Toronto. Curious to see what will happen with him. I could see other clubs trying to pry him out of there, since Colorado is on a tear while he’s absent. Everyone needs puck-moving D.”
Could you imagine? A Leafs blue line led by Morgan Rielly and Tyson Barrie. That’s some serious offence from the defence. The 26-year-old Barrie is signed for three more seasons at $5.5 million per season. He’s been out of the lineup since suffering a broken hand in mid December, but he has managed four goals and 27 points in 34 games with the Avs this season. When he went down with injury he was trailing only Dallas Stars blue liner John Klingberg in defensive scoring.
Barrie put up a remarkable 53 points in 2014-15 and followed it up with 49 points in 2015-16. No one’s denying his offensive capabilities, but how likely is he to end up in Toronto?
Like everything, it all comes back to the asking price. What are the Avs looking for in exchange for Barrie and what do the Leafs have to offer? Ava GM Joe Sakic has shown with the Matt Duchene trade that he’s willing to be patient in making a deal, so he won’t rush to get Barrie out the door. It’s also worth noting that beyond Barrie, the Avs are woefully thin on the right side. Cole Makar and Conor Timmins certainly look to be on their way to NHL stardom, but they’re still potential years away from playing big minutes. Because of this, it’s likely that Sakic would be seeking a young defenceman in return for Barrie, his #1 D. Does Leafs rookie Travis Dermott fit the bill? How about 2017 first round pick Timothy Liljegren? For Sakic… it might take both. Not sure the Leafs have the stomach for a deal of that magnitude.
So, while there’s smoke on a potential Leafs/Avs blockbuster… don’t expect the sparks to start flying unless something changes. If it turns out that Rielly’s injury is worse than feared or if the Leafs’ blue line suffers a massive setback, expect trade talks to pick up. Until then, the answer for the Leafs’ defensive woes will have to come from within their current lineup.