Oilers & Canadiens Should Talk Trade Involving Tyson Barrie

The Montreal Canadiens should be looking to bolster their defence, while the Edmonton Oilers should still be looking to move Tyson Barrie before his contract is up at the end of the 2023-24 season. That should make them great trade partners, shouldn’t it?

There have been talks about multiple trades this offseason involving Jesse Puljujarvi, some with the Canadiens, but nothing has transpired between the two clubs yet. There has now been speculation around the possibility of Barrie being dealt to Montreal. The Canadiens are in need of a top-four defenceman with offensive abilities while Barrie is a likely trade candidate for the Oilers.

The Need for Montreal to Add a Defenceman

The Canadiens should be looking to take pressure off of rookie Justin Barron for next season by adding a defenceman before the season starts. He has played just seven games in the NHL and is 20 years old. Trading away Jeff Petry has forced Wideman or even Barron into a top-four role on the right side of the Canadiens’ defence going into the 2022-23 season. Wideman isn’t a top-four defenceman while Barron isn’t ready for that role yet as a rookie. Michael Matheson, the piece that came back to the Canadiens in the trade that sent Petry to Pittsburgh, plays the left side and alleviates what would have been the same pressure put on Jordan Harris or Corey Schueneman.

Justin Barron Montreal Canadiens
Justin Barron, Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

With the losses of Petry and Weber, there is a big need for offence from the blue line in Montreal. Wideman’s production isn’t going to cut it, despite his best season in the NHL at age 32 with four goals and 27 points. In acquiring Barrie, the team would get a top-four defenceman, as he led all defencemen in scoring in 2020-21 with 48 points in 56 games and is elite when it comes to the power play. The Canadiens ranked 31st in the NHL on the power play with 13.7 percent last season. They need all the help they can get and Barrie is great at working the puck around and doing what he can to keep the play alive on the man advantage (from “Oilers power play rounding into form with Tyson Barrie on the point”, Edmonton Sun, 2/2/21).

Barrie put up 41 points last season while playing mainly on the third pairing and the power play. That would have ranked him third on the entire Canadiens’ roster last season in points. With two years left on his deal, adding him would also give Barron time to grow in the NHL while giving other developing prospects time to push for a spot on the team.

The Canadiens have so much talent at forward and are lacking so much on defence that two rookie defencemen with a combined 17 games of NHL experience (Barron and Harris) are expected to make up the third pairing this season. If the Canadiens are expecting to be more competitive in 2022-23, defence and special teams are going to be a big part of that.

Oilers Would Greatly Benefit by Moving Barrie’s Contract Out

The Oilers do need to move Barrie’s contract out, whether it be this offseason or next. Evan Bouchard, the young defenceman who has already jumped Barrie in the depth chart, is going to need a new contract after this season too. Though he may not get a long-term extension right away due to cap constraints, Bouchard will at least need the money Barrie is being paid to play on the third pairing.

Tyson Barrie Edmonton Oilers
Tyson Barrie, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

A Barrie trade has been a topic of conversation since Bouchard passed him on the depth chart and the veteran was bumped down to the third pairing. He does play on the power play, but Bouchard contributed almost all of his offence at five-on-five and led all Oilers defencemen in goals and points. If he gets the power-play time Barrie does, Bouchard will easily reach 60 points and become one of the most offensively gifted defencemen in the NHL. He is already well on his way and Barrie’s presence is hindering a quicker rise.

Bouchard is more than capable of filling Barrie’s role on the power play and is a top-four defenceman who should be a top pairing defender soon enough. The Oilers will need the cap space to re-sign Bouchard, so Barrie must go within the year. The Oilers can easily replace him with a player who is stronger defensively and is paid like a bottom pair defenceman.

Proposing a Trade Between the Oilers & Canadiens

So if the Oilers were to trade Barrie, what do they need in return? They will need to free up cap space for the trade deadline and the coming seasons to sign players, and get some kind of return that helps the future, while also potentially filling the hole that will be left on the third pairing.

Ken Holland has done a great job freeing up cap space in order to bring everyone back this summer from Evander Kane, Brett Kulak, Kailer Yamamoto, and Jesse Puljujarvi. The work and luck allowed the Oilers to free up nearly $11 million between Duncan Keith, Mike Smith, and Zack Kassian, costing them only a second-round pick. The Oilers upgraded in net with Jack Campbell, at forward with Mattias Janmark, on defence with Ryan Murray, and still need a little more space to sign Ryan McLeod. The extra cap space freed up in a potential Barrie trade would allow the Oilers to sign Mcleod swiftly.

Ryan McLeod Edmonton Oilers
Ryan McLeod, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Holland must also look to the near future when needing that cap space to sign Bouchard, Stuart Skinner, and even Puljujarvi after this season, instead of having Barrie on the books at $4.5 million until the end of 2023-24.

The second need in a return for Barrie should include an asset, whether it be a prospect of fair value or even a draft pick for the Oilers to replenish their stock. Taking into account that whatever the Oilers get back will be considered a free asset, because Barrie originally signed with the Oilers in free agency and turned his career around after his time with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Oilers have more left defencemen closer to competing for spots in the NHL than right defenders. Darnell Nurse, Kulak, Philip Broberg, and Murray should make up the left side of the Oilers this season. If Barrie is traded, the Oilers would have only Cody Ceci and Bouchard on the right side. Next in the depth chart on left defence are Markus Niemelainen and Dmitri Samorukov, while only Vincent Desharnais is at a similar level on the right side as the first two players. Montreal is actually very deep on the left side in terms of young defencemen, but there are two options with that, as someone could always switch over and play their offside, or the Oilers could simply ask for Logan Mailloux who is a right defencemen.

Related: Oilers Signing Murray Eliminates 3 Players’ Chances to Make Team

The final area to cover is a return to fill the hole right now, though needs could always be addressed through the free agents that are still available. Wideman is an interesting piece coming off a career year offensively. He is a poor-mans Barrie who contributes offensively and has a cap hit of just $762,500 for the next two seasons. There would also be much less of a need for Wideman from the Canadiens’ perspective if they acquired Barrie.

The problem is the Oilers need a defensively reliable defenceman to play the third pair who can help Broberg adjust to the NHL and protect his own end. Better options that are still available in free agency include P.K. Subban, Danny Dekeyser, Calvin de Haan, and Anton Stralman, all of who the Oilers would be able to sign for around $1 million on a short-term deal. However, the Canadiens can fill most or all of the Oilers’ needs in a Barrie trade while Montreal would get the defenceman they need for the next two seasons. In the end, it could be a win for both sides.

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