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Will the Oilers’ Tyson Barrie Keep Ethan Bear Off the Top-Pairing?

Tyson Barrie bet on himself when he took less money to sign with the Edmonton Oilers. How’s that working out for him this season?

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The Edmonton Oilers’ Tyson Barrie and his top-pair defensive partner Darnell Nurse have become a strong defensive unit. They’re so good in fact that their success might keep Ethan Bear off the team’s top-pairing when Bear returns from his injury.

Related: Kassian Offers Explanation to Cameo Video Joking He’s a Flames Fan

It’s Not the Same Barrie this Season as Last Season

The Barrie who’s playing for the Edmonton Oilers is not exactly the Barrie who played for the Toronto Maple Leafs last season. What’s the deal?

It seems pretty simple, actually. With the Oilers, Barrie is running the show; with the Maple Leafs, he was always someone else’s (Morgan Rielly’s) understudy.

Edmonton Oilers Tyson Barrie

Last night, Barrie scored an assist in the Oilers’ 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames in the Battle of Alberta. That gives the 29-year-old Barrie three goals and 12 assists in 19 games this season.

The Oilers Have Played Better Since Barrie’s Been on the Top-Pairing

Since the Oilers’ young defenseman Ethan Bear had to leave the lineup with a hand injury, that moved Barrie up to the top-pairing of the defense partnering there with Darnell Nurse. To say that Barrie’s doing well is a bit of an understatement. Even when Bear returns to the lineup, it wouldn’t seem wise for Oilers’ head coach Dave Tippett to reduce Barrie’s time on the ice in any way.

Ethan Bear Edmonton Oilers

Because over the past 10 games the Oilers have played their record is 8-2. The team hasn’t played this well the entire 2020-21 season.

And, although the Oilers have a few games in hand over the Montreal Canadiens, they are currently have the second-most points of any team in the all-Canadian North Division. They’re doing just fine with Barrie in their lineup.

Barrie Bet on Himself in Signing with the Oilers

When Barrie signed a one-year, $3.75 million contract with the Oilers during the offseason, this kind of production was exactly what the Oilers expected Barrie to bring. In fact, apparently, Barrie bet on himself. According to Frank Seravalli, Barrie was offered more money with two other teams, but he chose the Oilers. It seems right now as if that was a wise choice.

Barrie’s 2019-20 season with the Maple Leafs was hugely disappointing – for everyone. Barrie only scored 39 points with Toronto, and only 12 on the power play in the 70 games he’s played. He’s almost halfway to that total with just over one-fourth of the total of games.

What Makes Barrie and Nurse Such a Good Defensive Pairing?

In the video below, the Oilers’ Barrie talks about what makes Nurse such a good fit with him as a defensive pairing. He also talks about young Oilers’ defenseman Evan Bouchard’s great shot.

What Makes Nurse So Good to Play With?

Barrie noted that Nurse was both “a solid solid defender and a good puck-mover.” Barrie admits that those skills make the game easier for the style he plays. 

Darnell Nurse, Edmonton Oilers

As Barrie suggests, “I’m just trying to find holes and jump in when I can.” He also notes that he wants to “be that guy joining the rush.” 

Related: Congratulations to the Oilers’ Connor McDavid: 500 Points in 369 Games

About Playing with Evan Bouchard?

Barrie was asked what it’s like to play with Evan Bouchard, who can absolutely fire the puck. Was it contagious for Barrie? Did playing with Bouchard want to make him fire the puck as well?

Barrie admitted that Bouchard could really fire the puck; he also noted that, if he had Bouchard’s shot, he might be firing it as well. However, because he couldn’t, he just tried to take his shots when he was in position. 

Even when Barrie didn’t score on his shots, he knew that by shooting he might create some open traffic in front of the net. As a result, he was – actually all the Oilers’ defensemen – “were conscious of trying to get the puck on net.”

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