If you’re a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, chances are you’re thrilled to have Tyson Barrie on your team.
However, for fantasy hockey owners, the addition of Barrie to Toronto’s defence corps makes things a little tougher on draft day.
The 28-year-old had a great gig going for himself with the Colorado Avalanche. He was a top-4 defenceman and ran a power play that featured Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog.
The skill players he’s going to be joining in Toronto are equally impressive. Auston Matthews, John Tavares and Mitch Marner are also three premier talents who figure to be part of the first power-play grouping.
But there’s one small problem with all of this for Barrie’s fantasy value - the presence of Morgan Rielly.
Rielly already has a lot of chemistry with the aforementioned members of the Maple Leafs. Over the past two seasons, he has spent nearly 400 minutes on the power play for the Buds and has been a counted-upon member of their PP.
And while I do believe Rielly will get the first crack on Toronto’s top man advantage, I ultimately believe Barrie will be the one who holds the fantasy-friendly position at the end of the year.
And that’s no disrespect to Rielly because he’s been an elite offensive producer from the back end. Last season’s 72-point effort was simply unbelievable, and that’s largely what has seated him third in points amongst rearguards over the past couple of seasons.
But if we’re talking about pure offensive talent, I think Barrie has the edge over Rielly.
During the past two campaigns, Barrie’s recorded 55 power-play points while also logging a shade under 570 minutes when up a man - finishing top 3 in each category. Simply put, he’s been a specialist on that side of special teams, helping Colorado post a top-10 PP over the past couple of years.
He’s been an extremely consistent blueliner when talking about point production. Over the past five seasons, the former third-round pick has eclipsed 45 points four times.
There is a slight chance the club bumps one of the forwards off of the first unit and goes with the pair of defencemen, but I don’t see that being an extremely likely scenario. Like most gifted shooters, Matthews should be the person the power play goes to for shots, which means you want to have him hovering between the blue line and the faceoff dot, taking up the part of the ice in the offensive zone typically occupied by a defenceman. Having him play below the dot and closer to the net would be a giant misuse of his talents.
Based off of their current Yahoo ADPs, you can get Barrie about 14 spots later than Rielly at pick 74. Although I like Rielly better than Barrie straight-up, I think it makes more sense to draft Barrie at the discounted price. And if you miss out on Barrie in your draft, there may be a buy-low period at the beginning of the season while Rielly likely handles PP1 duties. If you notice that the Leafs start to diverge from Rielly on the top unit, see if you can swoop in and strike a deal for Barrie.
Playing in Toronto’s high-powered offence, both defencemen should finish as top-20 rearguards in fantasy hockey.
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