Skip to main content
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track on the Olympic Games
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track onthe Olympics Games
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Edmonton Oilers' Tyson Barrie and Winnipeg Jets' Adam Lowry battle for the puck during third period NHL action in Edmonton on March 18, 2021.

JASON FRANSON/The Canadian Press

He has spent nearly a decade in the NHL, and during that span Tyson Barrie has been blessed to collaborate with the crème de la crème. In Colorado, he had the fortuity to line up beside Nathan MacKinnon. In Toronto, he shared the ice with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. In Edmonton now, he skates cheek and jowl with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

“On any given night, those two are the best and second-best players in the world,” Barrie says. “I am an offensive-minded guy who likes to create things, so this is kind of a dream made in heaven for me.

“The skill we have on this team is incredible. It’s as good as it gets.”

Story continues below advertisement

At 29 and a year removed from the difficulty he had in Toronto, Barrie is having one of the best seasons of his career. Last week, he became the first defenceman in the league to reach 30 points and did so in 33 games. The only other Oiler to accomplish the feat faster from the blueline is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Paul Coffey did it a quarter of a century ago.

Barrie started slowly, registering just two points over his first eight games in an Edmonton uniform. He has been on an extended hot streak since then with 28 points in 26 games.

“I stumbled out of the gate a little bit as I was trying to figure out my role and where I fit in,” Barrie says. “Then things began to head in the right direction. When you are a kid, you play hockey because it is fun. For me, it kind of feels like that again.”

Barrie scored 50 points or more in three of seven-plus seasons with the Avalanche, and had 49 once. He was stunned when he was dealt to Toronto in the summer of 2019 in exchange for Nazem Kadri. Alex Kerfoot and Calle Rosen came with him and draft picks were thrown in on both sides, but Barrie’s was the biggest name.

“It stung,” he says. “I had been in Colorado a long time and felt like I was part of the leadership group. It was a place I had grown to love and where I was comfortable. It was tough to leave.”

Colorado achieved great success with Barrie directing its No. 1 power-play unit, but he was given a secondary assignment by Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock. When the latter was unseated, Barrie was promoted to the top group by Sheldon Keefe and ended up fifth on the team in scoring with 39 points.

“When you get traded, it takes a while to kind of know your bearings,” Barrie says. “It was a tough start for me. Things were fine off the ice, but then there was a coaching change and the pandemic happened and the whole world shut down.

Story continues below advertisement

“It was a hard year.”

Barrie returns to Toronto with the Oilers on Saturday night for the first of two games at Scotiabank Arena. The teams, embroiled in a tight battle with Winnipeg for first place in the all-Canadian North Division, play again on Monday.

Toronto leads the season series 5-2 and beat Edmonton three consecutive times the previous time they met. That was nearly a month ago, however, and the Oilers have gone 7-2 since. At the same time, the Maple Leafs have struggled and frittered away a sizable lead in the standing.

Edmonton comes in rested after having three games against Montreal postponed this week because the Canadiens had a player who tested positive for COVID-19.

“This is not a normal season at all,” Edmonton coach Dave Tippett says. “If you got through the whole year without any interruptions you would be grateful, but also surprised.”

Barrie has been put to good use as the trigger man on the Oilers’ No. 1 power play. Through 34 games, he has two goals and 12 assists when they have a man advantage. With the Maple Leafs, he had one goal and 11 assists on the power play in 70 games. At this point, he has only nine fewer points than in all of last year.

Story continues below advertisement

“We all knew he was a high offensive guy and he has been showing it,” fellow defenceman Adam Larsson says. “But he brings a lot more than that to the table. He gets a lot of heat for his defensive play, but he has been a very good defenceman in this league for a long time.

“He fits us like a glove.”

Barrie plays on the No. 1 defensive pairing with Darnell Nurse. Between them, they have 14 goals and 55 points. That is one point fewer than the Maple Leafs’ current corps of six defencemen.

Barrie signed a one-year deal as a free agent with the Oilers for US$3.75-million. He says they have not talked about a new contract, but it would be a surprise if Edmonton proved unwilling to ante up to keep him.

A native of Victoria, Barrie chose the Oilers over other suitors.

“It was kind of a weird free agency, an odd time where you didn’t really know how things would shake out because of COVID,” he says. “From the beginning, I kind of pegged the Oilers as my favourite.”

Story continues below advertisement

When news leaked out that he was interested in coming to Edmonton, McDavid quickly reached out to him. They knew each other only in passing at the time, but they had buddies who were buddies.

“From there, it was just a matter of working the numbers out and getting through the process,” Barrie says. “There was no sting making a move the second time around. It was a new opportunity and has gone a lot more smoothly.”

He says he was only rarely called upon to try to shut down McDavid and Draisaitl with the Avalanche. He is thankful for that and to be their teammate.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies