FanPost

Tyson Barrie might actually be a replaceable piece for the Colorado Avalanche

Let me begin by saying that I am wavering on my previously expressed opinion that the best course of action for the Avs is to trade Barrie after the year or by next season's trade deadline. However, I still feel that there is a good argument in favor of doing so. This post attempts to lay out that argument.

Despite the pithy title of this post, nothing here is disputing the excellent piece on Barrie that illustrates what kind of player he is. On the contrary, the desire to trade him is largely based on the caliber of his play, which means that he could fetch a pretty penny in the trade market. It also means that Barrie has earned a big payday, and it's worth discussing whether Colorado should be the team to give it to him.

Barrie will not be paid like Erik Karlsson or Drew Doughty, but a contract in the neighborhood of John Carlson's $8 million AAV is a real possibility. This is a lot of money to contribute to one player, so it's necessary to see how that affects the team's cap space in the future. We will start there.

Cap Analysis

There are multiple pieces of the team that will need to be extended after the current season, with Barrie being one of them. Rantanen is playing like a man possessed and will certainly command a large contract. Also, the team may not want to move on from Varlamov at this time. The below illustrates the cap numbers over the next four seasons assuming that Barrie and Varlamov both stay with the team. It also assumes that Sakic somehow adds scoring depth by acquiring one of the top UFAs. Of course I went with my boy Mark Stone as the placeholder, but pay more attention to the cap hit and boost to the second line than the actual name.

In my opinion, if a guy like this can't fit into the picture with Barrie and Varlamov as part of the team, then one of these two should not be retained. However, it may work out, at least for a while, under my assumed parameters.

2019/2020

Assumptions for this year are that Rantanen, Kerfoot, Kamenev, Compher, Zadorov, and Varlamov are all extended. Kaut, Bowers, and Makar contribute as rookies, and the aforementioned Stone takes his rightful place on Colorado's second line. Cap space gets tight in a hurry, but the roster does squeak in under the ceiling.

Obviously there are a lot of assumptions here, including the 3.5% annual cap increase, so it could be better or worse in the end. That said, essentially this shows that the team can spend on a big name and retain all of the important pieces of the current roster.

Salary Cap 82,282,500
Line/Pairing Player Position Cap Hit Shoots Contract Through Extensions RFA/UFA Notes
1 MacKinnon C, RW 6,300,000 Right 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
1 Landeskog LW 5,571,429 Left 2020/2021 2020/2021 UFA
1 Rantanen RW 8,750,000 Left 2018/2019 2027/2028 UFA Extended 8 years
2 Jost C, LW, RW 885,833 Left 2019/2020 2019/2020 RFA
2 Kerfoot C, RW 2,875,000 Left 2018/2019 2022/2023 UFA Extended 4 years
2 Stone RW 8,750,000 Right N/A 2026/2027 UFA Signed for 7 years
3 Soderberg C, LW 4,750,000 Left 2019/2020 2019/2020 UFA
3 Kamenev C 1,200,000 Left 2018/2019 2021/2022 RFA Extended 3 years
3 Kaut RW 925,000 Right 2021/2022 2021/2022 RFA Replaces Bourque
4 Compher C, LW 2,875,000 Right 2018/2019 2022/2023 UFA Extended 4 years
4 Bowers C, LW 950,000 Left 2021/2022 2021/2022 RFA Replaces Wilson
4 Calvert LW 2,800,000 Left 2020/2021 2020/2021 UFA
N/A Nieto LW, RW 1,975,000 Left 2019/2020 2019/2020 UFA
N/A O'Connor C 925,000 Right 2019/2020 2019/2020 UFA
1 Girard LD 728,333 Left 2019/2020 2019/2020 RFA
1 Johnson RD 6,000,000 Right 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
2 Cole LD 4,250,000 Left 2020/2021 2020/2021 UFA
2 Barrie RD 5,500,000 Right 2019/2020 2019/2020 UFA
3 Zadorov LD 3,000,000 Left 2018/2019 2023/2024 UFA Extended 5 years
3 Makar RD 1,000,000 Right 2021/2022 2021/2022 RFA Replaces Nemeth
N/A Barberio LD 1,450,000 Left 2019/2020 2019/2021 UFA
1 Varlamov G 5,500,000 N/A 2018/2019 2022/2023 UFA Extended 4 years
1 Grubauer G 3,333,333 N/A 2021/2022 2021/2022 UFA


Total Cost 80,293,928
Dead Money 1,500,000
Cap Space 488,572

Landeskog MacKinnon Rantanen
Kerfoot Jost Stone
Kamenev Soderberg Kaut
Bowers Compher Calvert
Girard Johnson
Cole Barrie
Zadorov Makar

2020/2021

Here I am assuming Jost, O'Connor, Girard, and Barrie all receive extensions. Also, I didn't want to get greedy, so Ottawa's pick brings Turcotte after a year of college. He replaces Soderberg, who the team simply cannot afford any longer under this scenario. Things are still tight, but the team is still okay from a cap perspective.

Salary Cap 85,162,388
Line/Pairing Player Position Cap Hit Shoots Contract Through Extensions RFA/UFA Notes
1 MacKinnon C, RW 6,300,000 Right 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
1 Landeskog LW 5,571,429 Left 2020/2021 2020/2021 UFA
1 Rantanen RW 8,750,000 Left 2027/2028 2027/2028 UFA
2 Jost C, LW, RW 3,000,000 Left 2019/2020 2023/2024 RFA Extended 4 years
2 Kerfoot C, RW 2,875,000 Left 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
2 Stone RW 8,750,000 Right 2026/2027 2026/2027 UFA
3 Turcotte C 950,000 Left 2022/2023 2022/2023 RFA Replaces Soderberg
3 Kamenev C 1,200,000 Left 2021/2022 2021/2022 RFA
3 Kaut RW 925,000 Right 2021/2022 2022/2023 RFA
4 Compher C, LW 2,875,000 Right 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
4 Bowers C, LW 950,000 Left 2021/2022 2021/2022 RFA
4 Calvert LW 2,800,000 Left 2020/2021 2020/2021 UFA
N/A Prospect ??? 950,000 ??? 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA Replaces Nieto
N/A O'Connor C 1,000,000 Right 2019/2020 2022/2023 UFA Extended 3 years
1 Girard LD 5,250,000 Left 2019/2020 2025/2026 RFA Extended 6 years
1 Johnson RD 6,000,000 Right 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
2 Cole LD 4,250,000 Left 2020/2021 2020/2021 UFA
2 Barrie RD 7,500,000 Right 2019/2020 2026/2027 UFA Extended 7 years
3 Zadorov LD 3,000,000 Left 2023/2024 2023/2024 UFA
3 Makar RD 1,000,000 Right 2021/2022 2021/2022 RFA
N/A Timmins LD 1,000,000 Left 2019/2021 2020/2021 UFA
1 Varlamov G 5,500,000 N/A 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
1 Grubauer G 3,333,333 N/A 2021/2022 2021/2022 UFA


Total Cost 83,729,762
Dead Money 0
Cap Space 1,432,626

Landeskog MacKinnon Rantanen
Kerfoot Jost Stone
Kamenev Turcotte Kaut
Bowers Compher Calvert
Girard Johnson
Cole Barrie
Zadorov Makar

2021/2022

This year is the first time we see the consequence of keeping Barrie, as Zadorov is lost to Seattle in the expansion draft. Such loss makes it necessary to keep Cole, which might not be the ideal scenario. The right side of the defense still looks amazing, but the left is suffering. I'm sliding Timmins in on the left, which may or may not be reasonable, but there are few other options currently in the system. Maybe this changes by that time, but currently it seems that the team will be left with a number of right-handed defensemen and relatively few options on the left.

The expansion draft aside, Landeskog gets a raise, while Cole's cap hit stays the same. Timmins will also need a new contract, but he hasn't really been utilized much up to this point, so it is at a modest cost. Calvert leaves in free agency and O'Connor slides in to take his place.

Cap space actually increases pretty significantly this year, but this is the calm before the storm.

Salary Cap 88,143,071
Line/Pairing Player Position Cap Hit Shoots Contract Through Extensions RFA/UFA Notes
1 MacKinnon C, RW 6,300,000 Right 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
1 Landeskog LW 8,250,000 Left 2020/2021 2026/2027 UFA Extended 6 years
1 Rantanen RW 8,750,000 Left 2027/2028 2027/2028 UFA
2 Jost C, LW, RW 3,000,000 Left 2023/2024 2023/2024 RFA
2 Kerfoot C, RW 2,875,000 Left 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
2 Stone RW 8,750,000 Right 2026/2027 2026/2027 UFA
3 Turcotte C 950,000 Left 2022/2023 2022/2023 RFA
3 Kamenev C 1,200,000 Left 2021/2022 2021/2022 RFA
3 Kaut RW 925,000 Right 2022/2023 2022/2023 RFA
4 Compher C, LW 2,875,000 Right 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
4 Bowers C, LW 950,000 Left 2021/2022 2021/2022 RFA
4 O'Connor C 1,000,000 Right 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA Replaces Calvert
N/A Prospect ??? 950,000 ??? 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
N/A Prospect ??? 1,000,000 ??? 2023/2024 2023/2024 UFA
1 Girard LD 5,250,000 Left 2025/2026 2025/2026 RFA
1 Johnson RD 6,000,000 Right 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
2 Cole LD 4,250,000 Left 2020/2021 2023/2024 UFA Extended 3 years
2 Barrie RD 7,500,000 Right 2026/2027 2026/2027 UFA
3 Timmins LD 1,750,000 Left 2020/2021 2023/2024 UFA Extended 3 years
3 Makar RD 1,000,000 Right 2021/2022 2021/2022 RFA
N/A Prospect ??? 1,050,000 ??? 2023/2024 2023/2024 UFA Replaces Zadorov
1 Varlamov G 5,500,000 N/A 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
1 Grubauer G 3,333,333 N/A 2021/2022 2021/2022 UFA

Total Cost 83,408,333
Dead Money 0
Cap Space 4,734,738

Landeskog MacKinnon Rantanen
Kerfoot Jost Stone
Kamenev Turcotte Kaut
Bowers Compher O'Connor
Girard Johnson
Cole Barrie
Timmins Makar

2022/2023

In the final year of MacKinnon's contract, Kamenev, Bowers, Makar, and Grubauer will all need raises. It is likely that Makar and Grubauer are the big ones, but it would be a nice problem to have if the others also earned some serious cash. That aside, even assuming what I think and hope are conservative cap hits for those two, here is where things get ugly and the team needs to let someone go.

Of course a lot of this can differ from reality (perhaps the cap goes up by more than 3.5% annually and things are fine, or perhaps Turcotte was actually Jack Hughes instead and things get even uglier from a cap perspective), but this is where we're at under these assumptions. Keep in mind that MacKinnon, Turcotte, Kerfoot, Kaut, Compher, Johnson, Varlamov, etc. are up for contracts the next season, and even letting Johnson and Varlamov go probably wouldn't be enough to cover the costs.

Salary Cap 91,228,079
Line/Pairing Player Position Cap Hit Shoots Contract Through Extensions RFA/UFA Notes
1 MacKinnon C, RW 6,300,000 Right 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
1 Landeskog LW 8,250,000 Left 2026/2027 2026/2027 UFA
1 Rantanen RW 8,750,000 Left 2027/2028 2027/2028 UFA
2 Jost C, LW, RW 3,000,000 Left 2023/2024 2023/2024 RFA
2 Kerfoot C, RW 2,875,000 Left 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
2 Stone RW 8,750,000 Right 2026/2027 2026/2027 UFA
3 Turcotte C 950,000 Left 2022/2023 2022/2023 RFA
3 Kamenev C 2,750,000 Left 2021/2022 2024/2025 RFA Extended 3 years
3 Kaut RW 925,000 Right 2022/2023 2022/2023 RFA
4 Compher C, LW 2,875,000 Right 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
4 Bowers C, LW 1,500,000 Left 2021/2022 2024/2025 RFA Extended 3 years
4 O'Connor C 1,000,000 Right 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
N/A Prospect ??? 950,000 ??? 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
N/A Prospect ??? 1,000,000 ??? 2023/2024 2023/2024 UFA
1 Girard LD 5,250,000 Left 2025/2026 2025/2026 RFA
1 Johnson RD 6,000,000 Right 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
2 Cole LD 4,250,000 Left 2023/2024 2023/2024 UFA
2 Barrie RD 7,500,000 Right 2026/2027 2026/2027 UFA
3 Timmins LD 1,750,000 Left 2023/2024 2023/2024 UFA
3 Makar RD 6,000,000 Right 2021/2022 2028/2029 RFA Extended 8 years
N/A Prospect ??? 1,050,000 ??? 2023/2024 2023/2024 UFA
1 Varlamov G 5,500,000 N/A 2022/2023 2022/2023 UFA
1 Grubauer G 5,000,000 N/A 2021/2022 2025/2026 UFA Extended 4 years

Total Cost 92,175,000
Dead Money 0
Cap Space -946,921

Landeskog MacKinnon Rantanen
Kerfoot Jost Stone
Kamenev Turcotte Kaut
Bowers Compher O'Connor
Girard Johnson
Cole Barrie
Timmins Makar

The moral of the story here is that it can be done for a while, but it gets tight and may eventually tip the boat. Is it worth worrying about cap troubles down the line in order to have Barrie during this time? That's the million (or 7.5 million) dollar question, which brings us to the next topic.

Utilization

This section asks whether having a guy like Makar on the third pairing is a waste in terms of utilization. Currently, the players on the third pairing (i.e. Zadorov, Nemeth, and Barberio) average around 16 minutes of TOI per contest. Ideally, a guy with Makar's talent would see the ice more than that. It is likely that Girard, Barrie and Johnson will all continue to see 20+ minutes per game, so where does that leave Makar? Additionally, which of the three offensive defensmen plays on the PK?

A team like Nashville utilizes their top four to the tune of around 48 minutes per game. It may make sense from a roster-building perspective to load up the minutes for the two best pairings and go with an inexpensive but reliable third pairing, comprised of players that can play well in sheltered minutes and also spend time on the PK. This is debatable though, and it may come down to preference. In short though, perhaps having three high-end puck moving defensemen is too much of a good thing, and more balance would be better from a roster building perspective. Something to think about anyway.

What if Barrie were traded?

First, the team no longer has much of an issue with respect to the expansion draft. Johnson, Girard, and Zadorov will be protected, and Makar will be exempt. This keeps what I think is the top four of the future intact. Timmins may be lost, but losing a good defenseman from the third pairing is acceptable. Alternatively, maybe Varlamov or Grubauer end up in Seattle, or perhaps a guy like Compher or Kamenev. In my opinion, assuming that Zadorov lives up to his potential, this may be preferable to ending up with a glut of right-handed defensemen and minimal depth on the left. It also allows the team to eventually lose Cole's contract and put that cap space to good use.

Second, the team gains around $4.5 million in additional cap space when Barrie is removed and Zadorov remains on the roster. An additional $3 million or so comes off the books when Cole's contract is up (for the mathematically challenged, this is a total of around $7.5 million in total savings). This can be used to pay whoever comes to Colorado, to make deadline moves, or to eventually pay the bills when MacKinnon and others are needing a new contract.

The Denver Broncos GM (some dude named John Elway) has a mantra that the goal is to "win from now on." While this is easier said than done for those not named Belichick, it involves having the testicular fortitude to move a player at the peak of their value in order to continuously build for the future. Getting another high-end player, whether LHD or a forward, on a cost-controlled contract as well as draft picks in exchange for Barrie could go a long way toward making that dream a reality. And with Makar ready to step in, maybe it makes sense.

Yeah but should we expect Makar to come in and produce immediately?

In short, yes! Below is a summary of a few recent NCAA offensive-minded defensemen that have successfully transitioned to the NHL and are being utilized as an offensive defenseman (Shattenkirk was included due to the Colorado connection). On a PPG basis, none have outpaced Makar's current season during their best season in college. Outside of McAvoy, who exploded onto the scene in the NHL, all of these players saw a relatively consistent drop in production when comparing their final year in college to their first year in the NHL. Specifically, the average pace (excluding McAvoy) was equal to 64% of their final NCAA campaign, with a standard deviation of only 0.10 PPG.

If Makar can keep up his current pace, he would finish the full 38 game season with 45 points. Additionally, if he transitions to the NHL at the average dropoff rate, he would put up 0.76 PPG, or 62 points over a full season. As a comparison, Barrie is on a pace of 0.81 PPG so far this year (66 points if projected to a full season) and finished last year at 0.83 PPG.

Is there a risk to counting on such results to actually materialize? Of course. However, I think the chances are good that Makar fits within the norm and perhaps even exceeds expectations due to the rapid pace of his development. Sure the sample size is small and leaves a lot to be desired. However, there is also a remarkable amount of consistency, and it Makar seems to fit with this group.

Season GP Pts PPG PPG Year 1 Change PPG
Butcher, Will Sr. 43 37 0.86 0.54 62.76%
Krug, Torey Jr. 38 34 0.89 0.51 57.00%
McAvoy, Charlie So. 38 26 0.68
0.84 124.53%
Shattenkirk, Kevin Jr. 38 29 0.76 0.60 78.62%
Werenski, Zack So. 36 36 1.00 0.60 60.00%
Makar, Cale So. 16 19 1.19

The nice thing is that the decision doesn't need to be made now. The team has the luxury of seeing whether Makar can keep this up for the rest of the year while still reaping the benefits that Barrie brings. Additionally, they can even keep Barrie for part of next year to see if Makar can make the jump to the NHL effectively. They may not want to wait too long though, as teams like Nashville and Dallas may also be looking to move a defenseman in order to avoid losing a great player for nothing to Seattle. Fuck Starbucks by the way, That place is basically a legal crack dealership that steals people's hard earned paycheck so they can feed their unhealthy addiction. But I digress.

Conclusion

In my opinion, no one should be arguing for trading Barrie immediately or at any time before this year is over. However, there are valid reasons to consider doing so once Makar is ready to call it a career at Umass. The bottom line is that these are the types of moves that need to be made if the team wants to "win from now on." However, it could also be a serious mistake if the return is not right or if Makar is an outlier with respect to the data above.

Keeping Barrie at such a high cost takes balls, but trading Barrie probably takes bigger ones. In the end, I might be in the latter category, but I can certainly see the other side. Regardless, I thought it would be fun to throw some numbers and data into a debate that I'm sure will continue for a while longer. Thanks for reading.

MileHighHockey.com is a fan community, allowing members to post their own thoughts and opinions on the Colorado Avalanche and hockey in general. These views and thoughts may not be shared by the editors of MileHighHockey.com.