The Flyers, currently, do not have anyone of that caliber. Gostisbehere, as much as we love him, still requires some shelter to properly succeed. Streit is very old. Del Zotto is probably as close as we can currently get to a "number one" - but he's certainly a step below The Elite.
Perhaps Ivan Provorov or Travis Sanheim will develop an excellent well-rounded game and fill that need in 3-5 years. But it's tough to say that they will for sure, and I think we should start looking at other potential number one defenders just to be safe.
Enter Tyson Barrie.
The 24-year old (he turns 25 next month) right-hander is a restricted free agent this summer, and is surely due a raise from his old 2 year/$5.2 million contract. He scored 13 goals and 36 assists this season in Colorado, bringing his NHL career totals to 40 goals and 113 assists for 153 points in 264 games.
And, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie, he's going to be on the move this summer. "I think he’s going to be looking for a sum of money that Colorado doesn’t feel comfortable in giving him. Therefore I think they’re looking for somebody who – looking for a different type of defenseman maybe, or one that’s not going to cost them as much money."
Obviously, there isn't going to be a shortage of suitors for Barrie, and the Avs will probably reel in a haul that surpasses what the Bruins got for Dougie Hamilton last summer. That was picks 15, 45, and 52.
If I'm Patrick Roy, I'm looking for an old first round pick that's close in age to the Duchene/Landeskog/MacKinnon core (they're 20-25) and maybe just needs a change of scenery, plus a second round pick, plus a roster player that can fill a role on defense. We'll have to see what he ends up fetching, but we can dream.
Let's look at some possibilities:
The Oilers are the hot team in basically every trade rumor this summer because they stink and they have a lot of assets. They're looking for a defenseman, and Barrie would fit into that team well (on paper, in July, and then the whole team will stink during the actual season because Oilers). How could Roy turn down a package centered around Former First Overall Pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins And The Fourth Overall Pick In This Year's Draft?
Well, here's how. The Avs have both of their top-six centers (Duchene and MacKinnon), and paying $6 million for a third offensive center is a recipe for mediocrity in the NHL. They'd be giving up a crucial piece of any competitive NHL team (that elusive number one d-man) for a redundant piece. Essentially, they'd turn themselves into the Oilers.
Another team that's rebuilding and looking to add young talent is the Sabres, who could put together a package that might entire Roy more than "let's turn the Avs into the Oilers." However, it's going to require a major decision to be made in Buffalo.
If, and this is a humongous if, the Sabres decide that now is the time to turn their core into a competitive one, they should dump a bunch of draft picks and add Barrie into the mix. That'd leave Buffalo with an under-26 core of:
- Forwards: Tyler Ennis (26), Ryan O'Reilly (25), Evander Kane (24), Sam Reinhart (20), Hudson Fasching (20), and Jack Eichel (19)
- Defensemen: Zach Bogosian (25), Tyson Barrie (24), Rasmus Ristolainen (21)
- Goalies: Robin Lehner (24), Linus Ullmark (22)
Buffalo has the 8th and 38th picks in this year's draft, plus four third round picks and six picks in the final four rounds.
And now, let's get to the whole reason I posted this blog. The Flyers could certainly use Barrie, but I don't know if they could return enough to be competitive in the trade market. Here's the assets they could stand to lose for a player like Barrie:
- The 18th overall pick in the draft
- Two 2nd round picks, two 3rd round picks, one 4th round pick, one 5th round pick, two 6th round picks, one 7th round pick
- Forwards: Scott Laughton, Matt Read, Petr Straka, Jordan Weal
- Defensemen: Mark Streit, Nick Schultz, Andrew MacDonald
- Actual Defensemen: Radko Gudas, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Travis Sanheim
I'm hesitant to include Sanheim but his potential is probably Barrie, and I always like to space out the top-end talent so they aren't all the same age. The Flyers could end up with this group:
- Older Forwards (age 26-29): Giroux, Voracek, Simmonds, Raffl, Read, White
- Older Defensemen (age 24-26): Gudas, Del Zotto, Barrie, Manning
- Younger Forwards (20-24): Schenn, Couturier, Laughton, Cousins, Konecny, Leier, Aube-Kubel
- Younger Defensemen (age 19-23): Gostisbehere, Provorov, Sanheim, Hagg, Morin, Myers
Of course, that would require losing some pieces from the end of the some of the groups, but that's a hell of a core to build around.
Let's get into it and figure out how we can make Barrie-to-Philly happen. Please excuse me while I put on my best pair on Ron Hextall Glasses.
Philadelphia receives: D Tyson Barrie
Colorado receives: D Radko Gudas, pick #18 in this year's draft, Robert Hagg
The Flyers get their guy and upgrade on defense. The Avs return "a different type of defensemen, or one that's not going to cost them as much money" plus they get to add a first-round pick and a prospect who is in desperate need of a change of scenery. They'll also get to use their own first round pick (#10) to add another big-name blueline prospect.
Can We Get Him?
If Buffalo opens up their treasure trove of picks or Edmonton puts RNH on the table, then no. The Flyers would have to give up too much to match an offer like that. Even losing Gudas might be too much, because Barrie is going to command a contract that pays him about twice what Gudas makes.
My final verdict: I don't think Ron Hextall, as wizardly as he is, can make this work for the Flyers. I want the Sabres to snatch him up.