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Barrie trade gives Maple Leafs boost from back end

Former Avalanche defenseman says it would be 'tough to find a better fit for me'

by Dave McCarthy / NHL.com Correspondent

TORONTO -- Tyson Barrie believes he will fit perfectly into the system the Toronto Maple Leafs like to play after he was traded from the Colorado Avalanche on Monday.

"The Leafs offense is second to none in the League," Barrie said. "I've been playing with some pretty good players in Colorado the last couple years, and I think there's definitely some similarities here. If I can get these guys the puck in good scoring positions and jump up to create some offense, that's my game. It would be tough to find a better fit for me in the League."

Barrie, who turns 28 on July 26, was the key piece in the trade that brought him, forward Alexander Kerfoot and a sixth-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft to the Maple Leafs for center Nazem Kadri, defenseman Calle Rosen and a third-round pick in 2020.

 

[RELATED: Kadri traded to Avalanche by Maple Leafs for Barrie | 2019-20 NHL Trade Tracker]

 

Barrie, who had 59 points (14 goals, 45 assists) in 78 games last season, has one season remaining on a four-year contract he signed with the Avalanche on July 31, 2016.

"We had a need, and from our view as a management team, we owe it to our forward group and [Frederik] Andersen in net to round it out as best we can and put the best possible team on the ice, particularly with defensemen who can move the puck effectively and efficiently to our forward group," Toronto general manager Kyle Dubas said.

Earlier Monday, the Maple Leafs acquired restricted free agent defenseman Cody Ceci (118 points in 440 NHL games) as part of a trade that sent defenseman Nikita Zaitsev to the Ottawa Senators, and defenseman Ron Hainsey left to sign a one-year contract with Ottawa. It appears defenseman Jake Gardiner also will leave in free agency after playing eight seasons for Toronto.

With Barrie, the Maple Leafs got a right-hand shot capable of playing among their top four defensemen who can "set our defensive line way up the ice," Dubas said.

"I think I'm just coming into my prime," Barrie said. "The last half of the year and into the playoffs, I was playing some really good hockey and I feel comfortable with where my game is at right now," Barrie said. "I can't wait to continue to improve. I'm an offensive-minded defenseman, but in the past I've been relied on to play against other teams' top lines and try to get the puck in the forwards' hands as quick as possible and jump into the play to create some offense."

Video: Leafs trade Kadri, Rosen to Avs for Barrie, Kerfoot

Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic said it was a trade that made sense for each team.

"They're looking for a right-handed defenseman, and we're looking for a second-line center," Sakic said. "[Barrie] gets 50, close to 60 points every year. He'll quarterback the power play. Has great skill. He's tough to knock off the puck and he's really going to help the Maple Leafs on the back end."

The Maple Leafs believe Kerfoot, who turns 25 on Aug. 11 and is an arbitration-eligible restricted free agent, can play a key role for them, Dubas said.

"The thing we like about him most is his competitiveness, his speed and his ability to transport the puck up the ice. We're excited to get him," Dubas said. "I know that Barrie will be seen as the key part to the deal, and I think Tyson's performance and track record certainly deserve that, but we're very excited about Alex as well. It was a tough thing for Colorado to include him here, but we feel he adds to our versatility with the number of guys who can play both wing and center. He's a younger guy than Nazem by about four years, so we'll hope he'll be part of it here for a long time."

Kerfoot, who had 42 points (15 goals, 27 assists) and won 274 of 489 face-offs (56.0 percent) last season, will give Toronto additional depth at center behind John Tavares and Auston Matthews. Also Monday, the Maple Leafs signed center Jason Spezza to a one-year, $700,000 contract.

"I was fortunate enough the last couple years to be able to move around the lineup and become a lot more comfortable in different roles, playing center, playing wing, and playing in different situations," Kerfoot said. "I think I've developed that ability in my game a little bit. I feel like I'm comfortable in a lot of different situations."

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