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Could trade rumblings from the Colorado Avalanche indicate a Boston Bruins raid for Tyson Barrie?

The Bruins are expected to be players in the chase for STL's Kevin Shattenkirk as their number one defensive target-but could another wantaway Western conference defenseman be their backup plan?

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Yesterday we saw all manner of trade craziness in the NHL and the rumor mill is only firing up even more as FA approaches. Today we've have Buffalo's Evander Kane mentioned as a possible trade target, further rumors that Milan Lucic is going to sign in Edmonton and the kind of pause usually only seen in a Mexican stand-off as NHL GMs try to outthink each other and jockey for position.

It is, however, the rumors concerning the Colorado Avalanche that might be of most interest to the Bruins, as reported by James Mirtle this afternoon:

When considering the Avalanche, it's notable that arguably their biggest trade chip this offseason, one that has been brewing for a while, is defenseman Tyson Barrie. The 25-year-old is an RFA this July 1st, and chatter from hockey insiders like Bob McKenzie has had him on the trading block for weeks.

With the price for Kevin Shattenkirk rumored to be absolutely astronomical (reports have the Blues demanding Dylan Larkin in exchange as a starting point, for example) it is not outside the rounds of possibility that the Bruins front office is looking elsewhere to improve its defense, and when it comes to doing that via trade, Barrie is one of the better options out there and may now be seen as expendable by the Avalanche.

An offer has been made to Barrie as recently as the draft, according to the Denver Post, but as yet Barrie has not signed a new deal. His last cap hit is $2.6 million - although as he's matured into a key role in Colorado and will be looking to be a top player on any team he might even consider going to, we can expect that to rise steeply.

However...what's to stop the Bruins at least picking up the phone with the Avalanche? Barrie is a young, skilled player who at the moment has his future in Colorado more than uncertain, and seems to be reluctant as of now to sign a new deal. With his RFA status hitting on July 1st and a qualifying offer officially made but not accepted, he is in limbo right now and has been on the trade block for some considerable time already.

We've seen already this offseason that teams are willing to make big moves and trade key pieces...there is nothing to stop the Avalanche being another one, particularly with the Bruins having $18 million remaining in cap spaces DESPITE the Torey Krug signing they've just announced.

Barrie is a useful player indeed. Here's his performance from 2016, as expressed in a HERO chart:

As can be seen, his stats for 2016 show that he's more that comfortable as part of a top line pairing, particularly when it comes to productive possession. Here's a comparison with Kevin Shattenkirk's performance last year.

As you can see, there's not a huge amount to choose between the two - but when it comes down to it, Barrie, at least last year, performed probably slightly better despite being on a far worse squad and gives the B's more of a transitional pop than Shattenkirk does, along with also being younger and likely to be slightly cheaper.

Couple all of that with the B's being in a slightly better negotiating position with the Avalanche (in that they've not actually secured the services of their player for at least one more year yet) and he's at least as good an option as Shattenkirk is, depending on the package being asked for.

Let's be clear here - unlike some we're not claiming that the B's ARE in for Barrie or that there's any substance to thinking that the "big trade" involving Colorado mooted above has the B's as a trade partner...but what we are saying as that he may well at least be an option, particularly if the Bruins are balking at the sheer price of the St. Louis man.

If nothing else, the availability of Barrie adds another wrinkle to the Bruins' undoubted pursuit of top defensemen to shore up their roster as they look to build for 16/17. He's an option that's on the table, and one that Bruins would be foolish to not at least consider, even if Shattenkirk is still their main target.