If you’re the Arizona Coyotes, you have to consider offer-sheeting right shot blue liner Tyson Barrie.
Reports out of Colorado suggest that the head coach and co-decision-maker for the Avalanche, Patrick Roy, considers Barrie to be more of a fifth defenseman for the team. As such, it’s hard to imagine that they’ll want to pay more than market value for a third-pairing defenseman – which falls somewhere around what he makes right now, or $2.6 million per season.
If you’re the Arizona Coyotes, you up the ante enough to pull him away.
Offer sheets aren’t used very often in the NHL.
The last time a player was signed to an offer sheet as a restricted free agent, the Avalanche, who watched as the Calgary Flames tried to pry center Ryan O’Reilly from their hands on a two year deal worth $10 million, ultimately matched the offer sheet value and kept the two-way forward in their system until the summer of 2015.
The time before that? Shea Weber, who was inked to an offer sheet in 2012. Niklas Hjalmarsson was the last player inked to one before that, in 2010, then Steve Bernier and David Backes were inked to deals in 2008.
All five offer sheets were matched; the last time a player was inked to an offer sheet successfully was in 2007, when the Edmonton Oilers pried Dustin Penner from the Anaheim Ducks.
Some believe that most teams would rather maintain good relationships with the other NHL GMs than take a risk by offer sheeting highly valued players.
Others think it will not only ruin relationships, but potentially pull them out of the running for a player sweepstakes in the future.
After all, why would a GM let a player go for picks through an offer sheet (which awards compensatory picks to the team losing the restricted free agent), when they could match the offer sheet knowing what the market value is, and then trade the player away for assets of their choosing?
This potential scare tactic could prevent a team like Arizona from offer-sheeting Barrie this summer. The Pacific Division club is under new, young management, and the 26-year-old John Chayka may not want to start making enemies in his first few months as a general manager.
What needs to be taken into account, though, is whether the Avalanche value Barrie enough to recognize that this could very well happen.
Terry Frei and Mike Chambers of the Denver Post suggested that the Avalanche can’t ignore Barrie’s minus-16 this past season, equating it to his inability to go up against the bigger forwards in the NHL. That inability, they suggest, is making him a liability on the second pairing for Colorado.
What his minus-16 fails to take into account, though, is that his shot suppression numbers, which paint a more accurate picture of how often Barrie is getting caught under a barrage of shots on goal, suggest that he’s actually right where he should be, defensively.
His offensive numbers? They’re all first-pairing caliber. His defense is indeed the weakest area of his game; but his shot suppression is perfectly on par with a second pairing player, which implies that his very weakest skill set is that of a third or fourth defenseman – not a fifth.
The Avalanche don’t use those kinds of numbers, though.
Roy has made it clear that he’s a staunch disbeliever in what shot metrics can tell you about a player, so he may continue to believe that Barrie is as reported: a defensive liability. He may continue to insist that Barrie slots in as a player similar to Torey Krug of the Boston Bruins, deserving third-pairing minutes and a place on the team’s power play unit.
If Roy thinks that, a higher offer sheet may be exactly how to snag Barrie without much in the way of current asset loss.
The theory that the Avalanche would match an offer sheet – then trade the player away for a package they’d be able to better hand-select – certainly holds up, but only if the team believes they won’t be sitting on an albatross deal by matching the offer sheet.
If the Coyotes offer sheet Barrie for north of the $4.8 million that Frei suggested the Avalanche would be hesitant to give, Colorado may not want to risk matching and then being saddled with a bad deal.
After all, a team would only be willing to make the trade if they believe that the player is making market value; otherwise, the Avalanche would be stuck retaining salary or getting a less-than-desired return.
It still may be a moot point.
The Avalanche may ultimately be looking to make a deal for Barrie, and they could get that done well before an offer sheet is signed.
Many of the teams sitting high on the draft board this summer are still looking to shore up their blue line. The Avalanche could figure that a trade with one of those teams (including the Coyotes) may be their best course of action, desiring to get a more hand-picked return for their asset.
If that isn’t the case, though, the Coyotes have just $34 million in salary committed towards the cap next year. The team will likely still operate on an internal budget, but we’d have to assume that they’ll be willing to spend aggressively enough to continue improving – especially with a notoriously weak 2017 draft class coming up.
They’re the perfect team to take advantage of some questionable opinions on Barrie’s value. After all, it’s about time the league saw another offer sheet come around.