After we reported about the recent rumors about Tyson Barrie being on the trade block, I got in touch with Ryan Murphy over at Mile High Hockey and asked him what he thought. He sent back...well, he has a lot of opinions:
The Avalanche have not had a great start to their season -- both their record and every metric we currently use to evaluate hockey tells us this very clearly -- but the idea they should move on from their good, young players at this juncture seems like a media fabrication to me. General Manager Joe Sakic, knowing the team was integrating seven new skaters to its opening day roster, preached patience over and over again prior to the start of the season. He knew there was going to be some difficult adjustments to make in the early going and I have a hard time believing he'd overreact this early in the season.
What's transpired in the media the past two weeks I believe is the result of Sakic trying to fix the Avalanche's problem with forward depth. Jesse Winchester and Alex Tanguay are out with long-term injuries; Mikko Rantanen and Borna Rendulic are not yet ready for prime time; and the NHL-ready options with AHL affiliate, San Antonio, are more suited to skill roles than the gaps in the bottom-six the Avs are trying to fill. So, I think Sakic made some phone calls, and multiple scenarios were discussed.Were NHL GMs trying to get the Avs to sell low on Duchene when he was enduring a slump? You bet they were. Were they trying to pry Barrie away during a weak moment? I'm sure the topic was brought up. But I can just as easily see Sakic smiling and politely saying "uh, no thanks."
Why do I think this is the case? Because the solution to this problem was to claim a 4th-line center, Chris Wagner, from the Ducks off of waivers. This indicates to me the team wasn't willing to shake up its core pieces. Are they worried about his upcoming RFA contract negotiations because of Ryan O'Reilly? Well, they didn't have a problem with Gabriel Landeskog (sorry about the hit), Matt Duchene, Semyon Varlamov, and Erik Johnson. The track record indicates O'Reilly was an anomaly.
How might a Barrie trade have worked? Well, I don't believe Loui Eriksson would have been an option. Like you said, he's 30 years old (well beyond the team's core age) and a free agent at the end of the year. The Avs simply aren't in a position to trade a controllable asset for a player set to hit the market, let alone another left-handed D -- a position of prospect strength in the organization.Khokhlachev? Patrick Roy doesn't do undersized centers (ask former 1st Round pick Joey Hishon toiling away in the minors). Goalie prospects? The team really likes Calvin Pickard, who was Top-5 in the AHL before being recalled this week. Spencer Martin, who was called up in his place, had a 46-save victory last night in his first AHL game. I think the Avalanche believe they are more in a position to sell a goalie than to acquire another.
What would it take? A big goal-scoring power forward -- someone who could step into the 2nd or 3rd line and replace Barrie's production from the blueline. The Avs may be struggling on defense so far this season, but there are high draft picks just now entering the professional levels who could possibly replace Barrie. If they would get a young RW that fits my description, they might make that kind of gamble.
Unfortunately, I just don't think these rumors have any substance. Barrie is a piece to build around, not sell off before his prime.
Thanks to Ryan for his dream-crushing time.