If the Colorado Avalanche and defenseman Tyson Barrie don’t come to an agreement on a contract before Sunday 3 p.m., Barrie will represent the only one of 25 players in the arbitration process this summer whose case actually went the distance.
A total of 24 players, including Barrie, filed for arbitration, while the Detroit Red Wings took goalie Petr Mrazek to arbitration. The 24 other cases all ended in a contract resolution, the last of which was Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Martin Marincin, who was scheduled to have his hearing Monday. Marincin, however, signed a two-year deal with the Maple Leafs on Friday worth $1.25 million per season.
Barrie had his case heard by arbitrator Elizabeth Neumeier Friday morning and has until 48 hours after the completion of the hearing to render her decision. The two sides have until that time to come to a contract resolution, however. If they do prior to the decision, the arbitrator’s decision will not be made public. It’s expected that if Barrie goes the distance he’ll receive somewhere between $4 million and $6 million a season on a two-year deal. Barrie asked for $6 million on a one-year deal, while the Avalanche requested salaries of $4 million and $4.25 million on a two-year deal. Since the Avalanche were the party taken to arbitration, they had the option of selecting a one- or two-year deal. That forced Barrie to come up with a salary figure for the second year of the deal in arbitration, a figure that is not available.
The Avalanche have the option of walking away from the ruling, which would immediately make Barrie an unrestricted free agent, but it would be shocking to see them take that course of action. What is more likely if the Avalanche are not happy with the ruling is they could trade him. There are no limitations on trading a player who has been taken to arbitration and since Barrie does not have a no-trade clause in his contract, the Avalanche would be free to trade him anywhere in the league.
There has been a lot of talk of a potential trade to the Edmonton Oilers, where Barrie would be a very good fit as a puck-moving defenseman who can produce points. The Oilers have talented forwards, but what they’re missing right now is a defenseman who can get the puck to them.
Either way, Barrie’s long-term future in Colorado isn’t looking great. Arbitration is, by its very nature, an adversarial process and there have been some bumps in the road between Barrie and Avalanche management. If Barrie were to get the $6 million a year he’s seeking, that would make him tied for the second-highest paid player on the team with Matt Duchene and Erik Johnson, who make just $300,000 less a season than Nathan MacKinnon.