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The Toronto Maple Leafs should trade Mitch Marner for Tyson Barrie

The Leafs need defensemen, the Avalanche need offense, it’s a win-win

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Toronto Maple Leafs Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

As the NHL trade deadline approaches, we are going to be inundated with trade rumors - some legitimate, some understandable and some just plain silly. One rumor that just won’t go away is that the Toronto Maple Leafs have interest in Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie.

As a team that has aspirations of making a deep playoff run this season, the Maple Leafs would be drastically improved by the addition of a right-shooting defender that can play in their top-4. Despite what many arm-chair general managers would have you believe, the Leafs would have to give up valuable assets in order to acquire a player like Barrie - he’s not going to come cheap.

Almost every team in the NHL is looking for a right-shot, puck-moving defenseman. Whether Joe Sakic is shopping Barrie or not, teams are going to be calling about him, so why not swing for the fences. He hit a home run with the Matt Duchene trade, and he’ll be looking to do the same if he decides to trade Tyson Barrie.

With that said, I propose the following:

To Toronto: Tyson Barrie (RD)

To Colorado: Mitch Marner (RW)

Why Mitch Marner?


The Maple Leafs want Tyson Barrie - at least they did in the summer - and if they were willing to give up Mitch Marner or William Nylander, the trade likely would have happened months ago.

Colorado’s Perspective

If I’m Joe Sakic, I don’t want to move Tyson Barrie. He is an elite puck mover that can quarterback your top poweplay better than anyone else on the Avalanche roster.

He is one of the best offensive defensemen in the game. Before he broke his hand in December, Barrie was trailing only John Klingberg of the Dallas stars for scoring among defenders.

On the flip side, there are a number of people that don’t want defenders like Barrie on their team. He’s a dynamic offensive player, but that might not be enough to make up for his defensive deficiencies. He turns the puck over a lot and has a tendency to wander out of position in order to set up his offensive game. Some fans - and coaches - simply don’t like that type of defenseman.

The thing that people forget when analyzing turnover numbers is that high totals result from high possession time. If you look at the turnover leaders on a yearly basis, you see the names of some of the best in the league. Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns, Kris Letang, they lead the league in turnovers.

Turnovers do not equate bad defense.

It’s the kind of argument that leads to P.K. Subban being traded for Shea Weber.

Like those other elite offensive defensemen, Tyson Barrie makes the kind of mistakes that fans remember at the end of the game - he also does enough throughout the game to make up for them.

Here’s a hot take for you: Tyson Barrie isn’t THAT bad defensively.

He’s middle of the pack on the Avalanche in terms of CA/60 and scoring chances against. He has nearly identical defensive numbers as Samuel Girard - a player that no one is accusing of being bad defensively. In fact, he gives up fewer attempts at the net at 5v5 than “shutdown” defender Patrik Nemeth.

All that said, Tyson Barrie is a very valuable player for the Colorado Avalanche, so if you’re going to trade him, you have to hit a home run.

A return like Mitch Marner is a home run.

Marner is the exact type of player the Avalanche need. He’s a 20-year old right winger that drives possession and can turn the second line into an elite offensive threat.

He fits in perfectly with the nucleus of the team, and if you can wear down Toronto enough, you jump at the deal.

Toronto’s Perspective

Do Maple Leaf fans want Tyson Barrie? Absolutely.

Would they be willing to give up a player like Mitch Marner to get him? No chance in hell.

The problem when talking about big trades is that fans always try to find a way to acquire high-end talent without giving a quality return.

Despite the recent emergence of rookie Travis Dermott, the Maple Leafs need help on the blueline. It’s their biggest weakness and the part of their roster that keeps them from taking the next step towards being a true contender.

Toronto has had interest in Tyson Barrie, and it's not a surprise why. The Leafs really only have two top-4 calibre defensemen on the roster - and they both play on the left side.

Interest in Tyson Barrie makes a ton of sense for the Maple Leafs.

The only way Toronto is going to acquire a top-4 defenseman like Barrie is by giving up quality and dealing from a position of strength. That position of strength for the Leafs; the wing.

Trading Mitch Marner would be tough - but it wouldn’t be the end of the world. The Leafs have more than one option to fill the void it would create.

Kasperi Kapanen is a top-6 winger playing on the fourth line. Josh Leivo plays in the top-9 on a team like the Avalanche, but he can’t get out of the press box. Then there’s Andreas Johnsson in the AHL. He is turning into a star with the Marlies and given the opportunity, he could most definitely help fill the offensive void created by trading Marner.

If the Leafs were to trade Marner for Barrie, there would be some serious backlash. A hometown fan favorite getting traded for a right-handed Jake Gardiner is not something that would sit well with large portions of Leafs Nation.

That doesn’t mean it would be a bad idea.

Would it ever actually happen?

Heck no.


Barrie for Marner, who says no?

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