Just hours before Wednesday’s game, Tyson Barrie slotting into the lineup for the Edmonton Oilers was questionable. He wound up not only playing, but the defenseman scored four assists to help the Oilers win 7-3 over the Calgary Flames. It was a huge game for Barrie and it catapulted him to the top of the NHL standings when it comes to points by a defenseman.
Fans in Edmonton are loving the results of last night’s game. Everyone is on a high, some writing on social media that the Oilers have to be thanking their lucky stars that goaltender Jacob Markstrom chose the Flames while Barrie worked out as Plan B. Admittedly, it’s been the perfect fit and both sides have to be loving how things have worked out.
The question will become, what happens next.
Forget Selling High
There are some theories floating around that the Oilers should sell high on Barrie and move him before the NHL Trade Deadline to capitalize on his value. I’ll be the first to suggest it’s the most ridiculous theory out there, with one exception. If Barrie makes it known to GM Ken Holland that there’s no way he stays past this season, then maybe you look to shop him.
First, I don’t believe Barrie would do that. Second, I’m not sure I’d trade him even then. He’s far too valuable for the Oilers playoff push and while Edmonton has other right-handed defenseman on the roster, it would be incredibly incompetent to move a player who is producing like Barrie is, especially at a time you need him the most. I’m also confident Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl wouldn’t be too pleased with that decision either.
Does Barrie Recognize How Good a Fit This Is?
With the preposterous idea of trading him out of the way, let’s acknowledge that Barrie understood there was a chance production like this was possible with the Oilers. It’s why he chose to come to Edmonton in the first place and took less money to do so. His goal was to get himself in a good position to produce some incredible offensive numbers and turn that into a longer-term deal that was more to his liking.
That said, an argument can be made that perhaps Barrie shouldn’t be looking for the most money on his next deal, even if he winds up scoring something like 50 points in 56 games.
Hockey Central analyst Kevin Bieksa says Barrie would be wise to understand the enviable position he’s in — being part of core of highly-skilled Oilers players — and do whatever it takes to stay there. In other words, if the Oilers offer him a long-term deal, he should jump at it, even if it’s not at the same dollar value he could get elsewhere.
Bieksa’s Argument Makes Sense
Bieksa spoke about the success Barrie is having in Edmonton and compared his contract situation to one he saw up close and personal. When he was in Vancouver, Bieksa noted that forward Anson Carter was having a great contract year and scored 33 goals with the Canucks. Playing alongside the Sedins, there was no way Carter was likely to recreate that success elsewhere, but he jumped at more money with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Carter was out of the NHL in a year’s time.
This is not to suggest that Barrie would play himself out of the NHL in another situation, but Bieksa thinks Barrie needs to understand there’s no better fit for him in the NHL than with the Oilers and that’s got to be worth a lot when it comes to talking an extension. Bieksa explained:
“When you’re a free agent, you gotta find a team that’s a good fit for you. … You look at it with Barrie, it’s just a good fit. The way he plays, he likes to handle the puck, he likes to be offensive, jump in the play, he’s good on the power play, he’s a right hand shot, which is also important for McDavid and Draisailt. He checks a lot of the boxes, he’s having a lot of success.”
What Is Staying Put Worth to Barrie?
Bieksa suggests Barrie should take the first offer the Oilers make. “I’m signing an extension right now, first ask,” he says. It’s probably not realistic to expect that to happen, but it is fair to ask what a Barrie extension looks like if both sides come to an understanding that where he is, is also where he should remain.
Could the Oilers get Barrie to sign a three-year extension at around $5 million per season? Sure, Barrie could get more, but that’s workable for the Oilers and it keeps Barrie where he’s going to post some pretty big numbers, playing with some of the best players in the world.
Jim Parsons is a freelance writer who covers the Edmonton Oilers and news and rumors posts here at The Hockey Writers.
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