Many saw the Edmonton Oilers’ signing of Tyson Barrie as a low-risk, high-reward signing when he put pen to paper on a one-year, $3.75 million deal in the offseason. With Barrie currently leading the NHL in points from the back end with 30, the signing has paid off tremendously. However, with key players on the roster such as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Adam Larsson also hitting free agency this year, Edmonton will need to make a decision on whether these three main-stay roster players will be part of the long-term future. In this article, we will go over why keeping Barrie past this season will be crucial towards the Oilers’ success next season and into the long-term future.
Dynamic Power Play Quarterback
With Oscar Klefbom missing the entire 2020-21 campaign with a shoulder injury, a new defenseman was expected to fill his role on the first power-play unit.
Barrie has done a great job this season in that spot, putting up 14 power-play points in 33 games. This production is also not out of the norm for him, as he had put up 30 and 25 power-play points, respectively, in his last two seasons with the Colorado Avalanche. The Oilers blueliner also currently leads the NHL in shots on goal with 94 on the season, making him a massive threat on the power play.
Even when Klefbom returns next season, Barrie would still be the primary option on the top power-play unit given his elite offensive ability, and would be a huge boost to a power play already containing two of the league’s best scorers. Bringing back Barrie for next season would allow the Oilers to mix and match their power-play units in case one defenseman struggles and improve their offensive depth from the back end in general.
Top Pairing Minutes Eater
Currently partnering with Darnell Nurse on the top defensive pairing according to Daily Faceoff, Barrie has been a huge minutes eater on the Oilers blue line this season.
If the Oilers decide to not bring back Larsson, Barrie will be crucial to the Oilers right side of the defense. He is currently fourth on the team, and second in defensemen for time on ice at 21:52 per game. This makes retaining the offensive defenseman important as there is no obvious candidate to replace his ice time.
Even if Edmonton decides to re-sign Larsson, bringing back Barrie can only help the depth on the back end and allow the Oilers to trade one of their younger defenseman for some help on the forward depth.
Offense From the Blue Line
After struggling to start the season with the Oilers, posting only two points in eight games, Barrie has exploded for 28 points in his last 25 games.
Combining this production with Darnell Nurse’s impressive 23 points in 33 games, keeping the duo together past this season may be a good investment for the Oilers to look into. Especially since the team has struggled to get offense from the blue line in the past, hanging onto an offensive defenseman should help boost the Oilers’ chances of success in the future.
While Barrie may slow down from his current pace right now, he has shown his elite offensive talent in the past with 57 and 59 point seasons in Colorado. If Barrie and Nurse are able to stay together as a defensive pairing heading into next season, the Oilers could be very dangerous from the blue line in terms of offense and would be a lot deeper defensively especially when Klefbom returns.
The Oilers will have a tough decision to face on their big upcoming free agents this offseason. With Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl both taking up a pretty significant portion of the cap space, the Oilers might not be able to find the space to bring all three of Nugent-Hopkins, Larsson and Barrie back, while also trying to improve their roster from free agency. If the Oilers are able to afford Barrie, however, this would be a worthy signing to keep on their blue line in hopes of making a deep playoff run.