Ex Toronto Maple Leafs Defenseman Illustrates Oilers Problems

EDMONTON, AB - DECEMBER 07: Tyson Barrie #22 of the Edmonton Oilers skates against the Minnesota Wild during the third period at Rogers Place on December 7, 2021 in Edmonton, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
EDMONTON, AB - DECEMBER 07: Tyson Barrie #22 of the Edmonton Oilers skates against the Minnesota Wild during the third period at Rogers Place on December 7, 2021 in Edmonton, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs will play the Edmonton Oilers tonight.

The Oilers will perhaps be playing without Connor McDavid, and the Toronto Maple Leafs might not have Auston Matthews, but with just one game in the last three weeks, I think most people will still be excited to watch.

The Oilers are such a poorly run organization that after years of mismanagement, they leaned into an “experienced” Hockey Guy with a Cup Winning Resume even though anyone paying even a modicum of attention should have been able to see that the league is going in the exact opposite direction (at full speed).

There is nothing inherently wrong with the NHL’s older GMs, it’s just that many of them, including Ken Holland, have views on advanced analytics that have no place in today’s data driven game, and whose resistance to modernization only hurts their teams.

Holland’s comments on hockey analytics are impossible to believe come someone still leading an NHL team in 2022.  Then again, we are talking about a guy who thinks Darnell Nurse is worth $9.2 million annually for eight years.

One of the Oilers biggest concerns is the amount of money they are paying defenseman with bad analytics.  Forget about Nurse, who is at least worth what he’s being paid this season, but $15 million to Duncan Keith, Tyson Barrie, Cody Ceci and Kris Russel is indefensible.  It would be hard to spend money in a worse way.

But let’s focus today on Tyson Barrie, since he’s an ex-Leaf and it might be interesting to see where he’s at.

The Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers,  and Tyson Barrie

I though re-signing Tyson Barrie would be a good idea for the Leafs at the time. He’s right handed, and in his single year in Toronto he put up very good numbers, after Sheldon Keefe took over for Mike Babcock. (all stats naturalstattrick.com).

The Oilers signed him for one-year at $3.75 which was pretty reasonable. He scored an impressive 48 points in 56 games, but over half his points were on the power-play (meaning someone else could have replicated most of them) and at 5v5 he was a negative.

An GM with a healthy respect for measuring things would have realized this and used the $4.5 million the Oilers ultimately gave Barrie on a three-year deal, on another, better, player.

I liked Barrie as a bottom pairing right-hand defender on the Leafs, who is good on a second power-play unit.  Specifically, I thought the Leafs should have given him a one-year deal at the age of 29.  The Oilers gave him 3 years at the age of 30, for way too high an annual salary.

Barrie is still great on the power-play, but the Oilers get crushed when he has to play at 5v5.  Since they have Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on their power-play, I think it’s safe to say it wouldn’t be much worse if Evan Bouchard or Darnell Nurse was on the point.

Therefore, Tyson Barrie just hurts their team.  The Oilers have been outshot 322-244 when Barrie on the ice this year. Dangerous chances are a -20 in their opponents favor.  The Oilers are only expected to score around 45% of the goals when Barrie is on the ice.

Signing him a three-year extension was a horrible move by the Oilers that was compounded by the fact that they also signed Cody Ceci, Kris Russel and Duncan Keith.  They have a blue-line that should be obviously bad to anyone, even if they’ve ignored every single advancement in player evaluation of the last 20 years, like Ken Holland has.

Tyson Barrie was an underrated member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and I am a huge fan of his, but he’s currently an example of why the Oilers are in such trouble.  Barrie is a good player who you can make effective use of, but the Oilers are operating as if they are ignorant of some basic ideas:

  1. Barrie is most effective on the power-play, where almost all of his points could be replicated by another player.  Though he is very good here, there are no shortage of NHL players who could perform well on a power-play featuring the Oilers’ other players.

The reason a team would pay Barrie so much money is because of his offense, but it’s offense that the team doesn’t need to pay for.   Given the Oilers roster, signing Barrie was the equivalent of buying a third TV and then not having any money for food.

2.     Any player the Oilers would reasonably use who is making the league minimum would provide the same value that Barrie has provided this season at 5v5, where he plays 16 of his 19 minutes per night (85% of his game).

Is Barrie so bad at 5v5 because he’s declined or because the Oilers aren’t using him properly? Does it matter?  The Oilers demonstrated when they signed Barrie that they are unaware of these two points, and that is why Barrie is symbolic of their failure to be a better team.

Next. Time for a New GM. dark

The team’s over-valuing of players who cannot perform at 5v5 is indicative of everything that haunts the organization and prevents them from capitalizing on having the NHL’s best player.