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Posted - 08/05/2015 :  12:29:23  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Several weeks ago, I wrote an article about Justin Faulk, and how he could be that fantasy defenseman the takes the big leap into the 50-55 point range. Now, as the calendar turns to August, and we can REALLY start thinking fantasy hockey, I think I may have the blueliner for you that takes the next step. What step? We’ll call it the “Mike Green circa 2008 Step”: Mid 20’s, prior 50-point season, plays with other offensively gifted players, and seems to only be getting better. His name: Tyson Barrie.

In 2014-15, Tyson Barrie became only the fourth Colorado Avalanche defenseman to top the 50 point mark, joining Rob Blake, Sandis Ozolinsh, and Raymond Bourque. After a slow start to the season that saw Barrie register only seven points in October with a minus six rating, Barrie rebounded to record three, 10+ point months. He was particularly strong in the months of February and March, tallying 20 points in 24 games. A classic power play quarterback, Barrie was particularly productive with the man advantage: 30.2% (16 of 53) of his points came on the PP, as he also averaged nearly three minutes/game (2:57) during 5 on 4 ice time. Those are encouraging numbers for sure, but I feel there is much more to both Barrie’s fantasy production as well as his Avalanche teammates heading into the 2015-16 season.

Regression was the name of Colorado’s game heading into the 2014-15 season, as many pundits predicted the club would fall far off of their 52 win, 112 point season; they were pretty much dead on, as inconsistent play and injuries (big surprise) to franchise goalie Semyon Varlamov resulted in a 39 win, 90 point, out of the playoffs season. From a fantasy production perspective, a lot of their disappointments last season can be attributed to one thing: Power Play. After finishing the 2013-14 season ranked fifth in the NHL with a 19.8% efficiency (50 goals), the Avalanche plummeted to 29th in the league, while racking up 13 fewer power play goals (37), and dipping to a percentage of 15.0….only Buffalo ranked worse. With the firepower that Colorado can put on the ice on the power play (Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay) to go along with Barrie, that number was particularly concerning. Power play success can be such an inconsistent statistic from year to year, as exemplified here by Colorado’s numbers. In a way, their lack of PP success was just a microcosm of the ‘Lanche’s up and down year after being the darlings of the NHL during head coach Patrick Roy’s rookie season behind the bench.

All that can change for fantasy owners during the upcoming season, and Barrie can be a huge part of the success. How? Shots on goal. Last year, Barrie ranked 32nd in shots on goal by all blueliners with a mere 139, yet oddly enough, that was a career high. His shooting percentage actually regressed from the previous year (12.9% to 8.6%), so add it all up, and there is much more room for fantasy production from Barrie next season despite the fact that he set a career-high with 53 points. That’s not to say that he can creep into Erik Karlsson territory (292 SOG’s, fourth overall in the NHL), but a healthy bump into the 190’s to 200’s certainly seems reasonable, and with that will come increased fantasy numbers, not only for him, but for his fellow Avalanche teammates also.

I mentioned in the beginning the “Mike Green circa 2008 Step”. Let’s compare Barrie’s career start to Green’s to see if there’s any validity to that:

Green's last 3 seasons:

Season / Age / GP / Goals / Assists / PPG’s / SOG’s / +/-
2007-08 / 22 / 82 / 18 / 38 / 8 / 234 +6
2008-09 / 23 / 68 / 31 / 42 / 18 / 243 / +24
2009-10 / 24 / 75 / 19 / 57 / 10 / 205 / +39
Three-year average: 75 GP / 23 goals / 46 assists / 12 PPG’s / 227 / SOG’s / +23

Here’s Barrie’s last two full seasons:

Season / Age / GP / Goals / Assists / PPG’s / SOG’s / +/-
2013-14 / 22 / 64 / 13 / 25 / 4 / 101 / +17
2014-15 / 23 / 80 / 12 / 41 / 2 / 139 / +5
Two-year average: 72 GP / 12 goals / 33 assists / 3 PPG’s / 120 / +11

Not even close, is it? Can it be? I think it can meet Green’s three-season output somewhere in the middle of Barrie’s first two season’s average. Again, it comes back to shots on goal; the comparisons to Green show more than 100 shots on net, that doesn’t even take into account shots towards goal from an advanced perspective. Barrie can certainly put 70-80 more shots towards the net for the upcoming season. If he does, 53 points can potentially become 65 points; there’s certainly no reason why he cannot top the 20 goal mark, with 40-45 assists for 2015-16. Those numbers could put him in the Karlsson, Brent Burns, P.K. Subban territory going forward, a group that is certainly well within Barrie’s reach given his past offensive production, and the players he hits the ice with for an average of 21 minutes/night.

The verdict: Barrie is easily a top ten fantasy defenseman going into 2015-16. As a matter of fact, there’s a good chance that by season’s end, he could be Top 5. Keep him on your radar with the aforementioned players (along with Kris Letang) heading into your draft, and for the love of fantasy hockey, let’s all hope and pray he decides to shoot the puck more… much more!!!

Written by Derek Gibson of www.dobberhockey.com

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