EDMONTON, Ky. — The Edmonton Oilers added to their blue line and brought back a familiar face on the second day of NHL free agency.
The club inked a one-year, US$3.75-million contract with defenceman Tyson Barrie before re-signing veteran goalie Mike Smith for $2 million at the same term on Saturday.
Barrie has registered 80 goals and 346 points in 554 career NHL games with the Colorado Avalanche and Toronto Maple Leafs to go along with 14 points (one goal, 13 assists) in 26 post-season contests.
The Victoria native was acquired by Toronto in July 2019 as part of the trade with Colorado for centre Nazem Kadri, but had a rough start under former Leafs head coach Mike Babcock and never really got going with his new team. Things improved after Babcock was fired and replaced with Sheldon Keefe, but Barrie still finished with just five goals and 39 points in 70 games.
That was far below the 59- and 57-point campaigns he produced during his final two seasons with the Avalanche.
“For me, it was a no brainer,” Barrie, who got a call from Edmonton captain Connor McDavid this week about a potential fit, said of joining the Oilers. “It wasn’t about money this year, (but) coming in to re-establish myself and show the league that I’m still a pretty good player.”
Barrie, who is coming off a four-year deal that carried an annual-average value of $5.5 million, was also held off the scoresheet in Toronto’s five-game loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the qualifying round of the NHL’s restart before hitting unrestricted free agency.
“I was the top guy in Colorado as far as power play went and played a lot of minutes,” he said. “Going in and trying to adjust to not being in that role and not being that guy, it got off to a bit of a rocky start.
“It’s hard to reel things in when they’re spiraling. Hockey is a big confidence game.”
The Oilers are also bringing Smith back to tandem with Mikko Koskinen for a second season despite there being a plethora of options on the goalie market when free agency opened. The 38-year-old from Kingston, Ont., finished 2019-20 with 19-13-6 record, a .902 save percentage and a 2.95 goals-against average, but was pulled after stopping just 18 of 23 shots in Game 1 of the qualifying round against Chicago this summer.
The Blackhawks would go on to take the best-of-five series 3-1.
Set to enter a 15th NHL season on his fifth team, Smith owns a career record of 262-248-74, a .911 save percentage and a 2.71 GAA.
The 29-year-old Barrie, meanwhile, looked to be 12 months from a massive payday after the trade to Toronto’s talent-rich lineup that includes Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, but his sub-par performance coupled with the economic realities brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic scuttled those plans.
He will, however, get another shot to line up alongside some elite scorers in Edmonton after inking a short-term deal that should see him play big minutes with McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
Barrie’s addition and Smith’s return on the second day of free agency came after the Oilers signed centre Kyle Turris to a two-year, $3.3-million contract and winger Tyler Ennis to a one-year, $1-million pact on Friday.
“I think we’ve got a pretty great team,” Barrie said. “I’m looking forward to getting involved.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 10, 2020.
The Canadian Press