Rumour: Toronto Maple Leafs reportedly interested in Tyson Barrie
The Toronto Maple Leafs are on the look out for another top-4 defenseman, with rumours circulating around Restricted Free Agent Tyson Barrie.
Barrie, a right-handed shot, is currently with the Colorado Avalanche but has not been able to agree on a long-term deal with the club. His contract dispute will now be taken to arbitration and this decision has prompted a number of trade rumours, with one of the most prominent club’s linked with the 24-year-old being the Maple Leafs.
The Leafs recently re-signed Roman Polak to help bolster a defense that sees Frank Corrado and Martin Marincin also heading to arbitration, with neither player having agreed a deal with the Leafs so far. But the need for a point scoring right-hander is still a priority for the Leafs’ rebuild process.
Barrie has put up 40 goals and 153 total points in his 264 NHL regular season appearances, making him an intriguing option for clubs needing more offensive play from their blueliners.
Barrie is also still young, with the Victoria, BC, native turning 25 at the end of this month. The former third-round selection by the Avalanche is attracted interest from a number of clubs, but the Leafs could be the most willing to jump on the player’s supposed availability.
Pairing Barrie with the likes of Morgan Rielly or the recently acquired Nikita Zaitsev could help improve one of the worst defenses last season, giving the team a solid group to build their team around.
With so many young and exciting forward prospects set to be brought through this season, the Leafs’ management shouldn’t neglect their defensive core if they wish to give their youngsters the best chance of developing. A strong defense can give their young forwards more opportunities to score and win games, making the idea of trading for Barrie a positive one.
Other reports have suggested that the Leafs are interested in UFA Kris Russell, who has reportedly been offered a 4-year, $17 million deal by the Leafs. If it came down to trading for Barrie or signing Russell, Barrie looks to be the stronger option for the Leafs management. A trade deal, however, may depend on how his contract arbitration goes.
If Barrie is rewarded with a big contract, it could put the Leafs off and make them turn their attentions elsewhere.