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Barberio Gets His Chance In Colorado

The defenseman was picked up off waivers on Thursday

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

CENTENNIAL, Colo.--Mark Barberio is ready to make an impact with his new club.

Picked up on waivers from the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, the newly-acquired Colorado Avalanche defenseman was on the ice at Family Sports Center nearly 24 hours later, taking part in his first practice with the squad.

Barberio's window to adjust to a new system and teammates is small, as he's expected to make his debut with the Avs in Saturday afternoon's game versus the Winnipeg Jets at Pepsi Center, but the 26-year-old is glad he got at least one on-ice session in before lacing up his skates in burgundy and blue.

"It was good to get out there and practice before stepping right into a game," Barberio said. "Get used to the guys a bit, get to know them a bit. Definitely ready to go for tomorrow."

Signed through the 2017-18 campaign, Barberio views this chance in Colorado to not only help the franchise this year but also to reward the club's faith for claiming him on waivers

"They're picking me up; I want to show that they made the right decision," Barberio said. "I want to build that future here. It's a great opportunity for me, and I just got to take it."

When a player is placed on waivers, it can be a nerve-wracking experience because of the unknown that the future holds. In Barberio's case, he wasn't sure if he had packed his bags for a trip to St. John's, Newfoundland, to join the Canadiens' American Hockey League affiliate or if he was going to one of the other 29 NHL cities.

The 6-foot-1, 207-pound rear guard got the news from Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin a little after noon eastern time on Thursday that he was heading to Denver.

"I heard there were a few teams interested, but I also heard that back in training camp when I got released," Barberio said. "You go through it, and you wait until it's concrete news. You can't really depend on rumors or whatever."

Video: Barberio talks about joining the Avs

A native of Montreal, Barberio has registered 31 points (eight goals and 23 assists) in 159 NHL games during his career with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Canadiens and 172 points (35 goals and 137 assists) in 261 contests in the AHL with both clubs' affiliates.

Colorado head coach Jared Bednar is familiar with what type of player Barberio is from his own days as a bench boss in the minors and is looking for him to play a similar role with the Avs.

"Hoping he can help us move the puck out of our zone and help us on the power play as well," Bednar said. "He is a guy I know pretty well from when he was in the American League, coaching against him versus Syracuse. He can contribute on the power play. He can be a dangerous guy offensively, moves the puck, skates really well. A little more on the smaller size, but I think he can help us in some areas where we're in need."

Having another puck-moving blueliner is something the Avs have missed while Erik Johnson has been out of the lineup due to a broken leg, and Barberio seems to fit the bill of a rear guard that can transition the play into the offensive zone.

"I know we have some talented forwards here, some speed forwards. I think it is important to get them the puck so they can work their magic. That is my goal," Barberio said. "I'm considered a puck mover, and that's what I like to think of myself as. I want to get them the puck and let them get to work."

Video: Coach Bednar's post-practice press conference

Bednar is also hoping that the addition of Barberio will give the club a little more energy as it looks to end a four-game drought without a point in the standings.

"First off, we're looking for players that can help us on the ice. That's the No. 1 key. Bringing in new guys, it can help add a fire. You saw that we got a little bump, not from a production standpoint from points and stuff, but a guy like Matt Nieto comes in and he's been a real good player for us… We're hoping for the same thing (with Barberio). Give us a little bit of a spark, a little bit of quickness, and that is what we have to do. We have to get incrementally better."

Barberio is a new presence in the Avs' locker room and is unfamiliar with the struggles the club has faced for the past two months.

Inserting a fresh face into the lineup can be a good thing for Colorado.

"I want to bring some energy, and I want to bring some positivity as well," he said. "I feel like I'm a pretty positive guy, and I want to bring that to the dressing room. We're professionals, and we're here to win hockey games so the next game is important for us. We need to try and win it."

LINEUP NOTES

Forward Rene Bourque and defenseman Fedor Tyutin didn't practice on Friday and won't play against Winnipeg.

Bourque suffered a head injury in the first period of Wednesday's contest at the Los Angeles Kings, while Tyutin hurt his groin during warmup of that game.

Defenseman Tyson Barrie was a limited participant in practice, only taking part in the first part of the session. He had missed four outings prior to the club's recent California road trip due to a lower-body injury.

"He was on early with the power plays, and he just has some soreness with the back-to-back and being out," Bednar said of Barrie. "I would say he is probable for tomorrow. He should be in. We kicked him off the ice a little bit early."

Bednar also said goaltender Calvin Pickard will get the start in Saturday's matinee versus his hometown Jets.

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