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CAMP: Barrie prepared to play quarterback

Tyson Barrie joins the Oilers expected to anchor the club's ever-efficient top power play

by Paul Gazzola /

Oilers Training Camp coverage is Fuelled By Gatorade

EDMONTON, AB - Tyson Barrie is no stranger to slinging pucks and administering the offence as a power-play quarterback.

Having done so with the Colorado Avalanche and Toronto Maple Leafs, the defender is prepared to assume the starting QB role with the Oilers this season - joining a power play that achieved a National Hockey League-leading 29.5 percent average in 2019-20. 

Barrie played signal-caller Saturday at Training Camp, working the puck alongside Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Alex Chiasson and Kailer Yamamoto, who rotated in and out with the group.

Video: OILERS TODAY | Man Advantage 01.09.21

Taking the place of the sidelined Oscar Klefbom in the upcoming campaign, Barrie's right shot and quick release is believed to provide the Orange & Blue with a different dimension in '20-21.

"Probably the biggest difference is you're going to see a guy who wants to shoot a little more," Head Coach Dave Tippett said following practice at the Downtown Community Arena.

"He adds a dynamic and element from up there. I liked the look of it."

Over his career, Barrie's been part of some highly-successful assemblies, with 129 of his 346 career NHL points being produced while up a man. He's reached double-digit man-advantage point totals in seven seasons and established a career-high of 30 power-play points in 2017-18 with the Avalanche.

The 64th-overall selection in the 2009 NHL Draft isn't entering the mix to scuffle with the system. Rather, the rearguard wants to complement the Oilers top-heavy offence by softening the opposition's penalty kill.

Video: RAW | Dave Tippett 01.09.21

"These guys like to come downhill and try to stay between the dots," Barrie, who has 21 career power-play goals, said of Edmonton's operation. "I'm going to have to take my shots to loosen things up for them and then with those three (McDavid, Draisaitl and Nugent-Hopkins), kind of let the creativity flow and let them do their thing."

Barrie is confident it can be a fit. He's coming into the position with experience after capping plays alongside elites like Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen of Colorado, as well as Toronto's Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, among others.

"I know how to play with good players and that's a positive for me," the 29-year-old said. "These guys are as good, if not better, than anyone I've played with. It's a great opportunity for me and I'm excited to see these guys do their thing."

Given the 56-game NHL schedule, Tippett and the Oilers are hopeful their previous rate can be renewed immediately. In '19-20, Edmonton's 5-0-0 start was accompanied by a 41 percent man advantage, as the club went 7-for-17 before their first loss.

"If we can get things firing early, maybe win us a couple of games and get off to a good start, that will be huge for us," Barrie said.

Video: RAW | Ethan Bear 01.09.21

While the Orange & Blue's main unit used Saturday to get acquainted with their newest puck mover, the second man-advantage group gathered to get reps as well. That unit featured Darnell Nurse and Ethan Bear on the back end, and three new forwards up front in Dominik Kahun, Kyle Turris and Jesse Puljujarvi

"Our job is to basically get a quality chance with not a whole lot of time left and from there, just play 5-on-5,' Bear explained.

Games are won or lost on the special teams and the Oilers are certainly aware. The squad experienced a fair share of positive outcomes with their impressive special teams sum of 113.9 last season. "They give you a chance to win on any given night," Tippett confirmed.  

And with Barrie's position as the incoming play-caller, a new-look attack could inspire a new statistical benchmark.

"They're such talented players, such high-end players and smart guys," Barrie said of his Oilers teammates. "We're feeling pretty good with just the one practice we've had."

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