Bear with me as I try to put one and one together and see if we can get two in this post. Specifically, I want to weave together two pieces of news and rumors to see if the logic makes sense. The topic, as noted in the title, is about the possibility of current Toronto Maple Leafs Tyson Barrie signing with the Winnipeg Jets when the season is completed.
Related: Winnipeg Jets’ Goalie Situation: Who Will Backup Connor Hellebuyck Next Season?
Logic One: Barrie is Looking for a Team that Fits His Style of Play
Last week the TSN’s Kristen Shilton spoke with Tyson Barrie, who becomes an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2019-20 NHL season. As Barrie noted, he’s unsure where he’ll end up but he’s pretty sure what he wants.
With the final year almost over on his four-year, $22 million contract, he told Shilton:
“It’s a weird time to be heading into free agency, that’s for sure. We’re still not certain what’s going to play out here for the second half of the season and playoffs, and obviously that will extend into free agency. It’s an odd time, but at this point I think all I’ve got to do is focus on getting ready to play, if we are going to play, and try to take a run with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the playoffs. That’s why they brought me in and that’d be pretty spectacular, so hopefully, we get a chance to do that.”
When asked about his intentions for next season, he stressed that the team he signs with has got to be the right “fit.”
In his conversation, he listed his three criteria: first, he’s looking for a team that needs someone “like myself;” second, he’s seeking a team that’s “headed in the right direction;” and, third he wants it to be a “good organization.” However, he believes there are a lot of “right organizations” that “tick those boxes.”
Barrie’s plan is to go through a process with any team that’s interested where both sides sit down and work through everything important to him. I believe that, with the salary-cap situation up-in-the-air for free agents, it might be a good time for a defenseman such as Barrie to sign a one-year contract at a team-friendly price (which for him will likely be around $3.5 million) and then play for his next contract which would likely come at a time that’s a bit more settled – trusting that “there’s got to be a morning after” when the COVID-19 pandemic has passed and things get back wherever normal goes. [Sorry I couldn’t resist the Maureen McGovern reference.]
I’m thinking there’s a chance Barrie will re-sign with the Maple Leafs, and I’m not the only hockey writer who things that. Another team that’s come up in recent rumors is the Vancouver Canucks. They are listed as a possibility because, prior to the trade deadline, there were rumors Barrie might be moved to the Canucks. In addition, that he’s from nearby Vancouver Island (Victoria) adds some credibility to that rumor.
That said, the Canucks are experiencing a salary-cap crunch of their own, and Vancouver’s rumored to being forced to split with two of their stalwart defensemen in Chris Tanev and Troy Stecher during the off-season. I’m not sure that makes sense, but I’m not starting the rumor. Tanev isn’t much for offense, but he’s a beast of a player and eats up valuable minutes on the ice with few mistakes. Plus he rides shotgun nicely for the quicksilver of Quinn Hughes talents. Stecher is from the nearby Vancouver suburb of Richmond, and in my book it never hurts to have hometown players.
However, the bottom line is that from Barrie’s checklist perspective is that both the Maple Leafs and the Canucks “tick the boxes.”
Rumor Two: The Winnipeg Jets Are Desperate for Defensemen
A couple of days after Shilton’s interview with Barrie, Ken Wiebe of The Athletic did a piece where he looked at how the Winnipeg Jets might improve its defense during the offseason. As Jets’ fans know too well, it was a horrible season for the Jets defense. (from “Breaking down 10 defencemen the Jets could pursue in the offseason, Ken Wiebe, The Athletic, 21/05/20)
The Jets traded Jacob Trouba to the New York Rangers for Neal Pionk and a first-round draft pick last June; Tyler Myers signed a five-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks on July 1; and, Ben Chiarot signed a three-year deal with the Montreal Canadiens. As well, and who saw this coming, Dustin Byfuglien simply decided for some reason (and honestly it might have been a good reason) that he simply didn’t want to play hockey anymore. He might change his mind and play, but it won’t be with the Jets.
The point is that, although the 24-year-old Neal Pionk came over from the Rangers and looked good, the team remains weak on defense and has been held together this season with pixie dust and prairie duct tape. Josh Morrissey played well this season, and Dylan DeMelo came over from the Ottawa Senators and might be a good addition if the team can re-up him. DeMelo adds a needed physical element to the team.
Here’s where Barrie brings his checklist to the door – and credit Wiebe with this suggestion in his article. Barrie might be just what the Jets are looking for, and the Jets might just be what Barrie’s seeking. He didn’t start off that well with the Maple Leafs, but his play improved when Mike Babcock was replaced as the head coach with Sheldon Keefe.
Although in Barrie’s not-to-distant past, he had a larger offensive role with his old Colorado Avalanche, his five goals and 39 points would be a godsend for the Jets. And, they’re a team trending upwards – which is what Barrie seeks.
Personally, the Jets could be a great team – they have incredible forward depth in Mark Scheifele, Kyle Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers, Blake Wheeler, and Patrik Laine. They have the soon-to-be Vezina-winning goalie in Connor Hellebuyck. But the team needs defense and has little offensive firepower at the backend.
That’s firepower would be Barrie. If he were to move to a team with fewer offensive defensemen, he’d have his old job back with the Avalanche – quarterbacking the power play and firing puck after puck at the net. It might be an ideal place for Barrie to land.
How Does the Logic Add Up?
Whether it happens or not, who knows? But, to me, the logic is there and this might be a time when, in hockey, one and one might make two exactly.
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