The Toronto Maple Leafs made a few depth signings on the first day of free agency, but their biggest acquisition on Monday came via trade. The Leafs swung a major deal by acquiring Tyson Barrie from the Colorado Avalanche in a four-player deal.
In the deal, Toronto gets Barrie, Alexander Kerfoot and a 2020 sixth-round pick from the Avs in exchange for Nazem Kadri, Calle Rosen and a 2020 third-round pick. Colorado will also retain half of Barrie's $5.5 million cap hit in the exchange.
It's a big score for the Leafs, who get a solid top-pairing defenseman in the 27-year-old Barrie. Toronto has been looking for improve their blue line for quite some time, but especially this summer with the likely departure of Jake Gardiner in free agency.
The acquisition of Barrie should help accomplish that goal; he has established himself as a valuable piece on the back end for Colorado. He finished last season with 14 goals (eighth among all defensemen) and 59 points (seventh) while averaging over 21 minutes a night for the Avs. He was also tops among all Avs defensemen with a 52.6 attempts share and a 52.4 percent expected goals rate at 5-on-5.
Barrie became expendable in Colorado due to the recent emergence of Sam Girard and Cale Makar as high-caliber puck-moving defensemen. The team also selected the top defensive prospect Bowen Byram with the fourth overall pick in the 2019 draft and he's expected to be ready to make an immediate impact. The veteran defenseman also has one year remaining on his current deal.
Not only does the addition of Barrie address a major need for the Leafs, but the retained salary keeps Toronto in good shape to re-sign RFA forward Mitch Marner this offseason.
The big piece going back to Colorado is Nazem Kadri, who will provide the Avs with some much-needed secondary help down the middle. Kadri, 28, is a solid two-way player who comes at an affordable $4.5 million cap hit over the next three seasons.
After back-to-back 30-goal campaigns, Kadri's production took a bit of a dip in Toronto last season. Primarily serving as the team's third-line center, he tallied 16 goals and 44 points in 73 games. He should find more minutes and opportunity in Colorado.
There were rumors that the Leafs would be willing to deal Kadri this offseason after he got himself suspended in each of the past two postseasons. Both of those suspensions came as the result of dirty, ill-advised checks, and both of them factored into first-round exits for the Leafs.
Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas downplayed the influence of those suspensions, but said that this trade came as the result of organizational need for the Maple Leafs.
Kerfoot will likely replace Kadri on the third line in Toronto. The center, who will turn 25 years old this year, picked up 14 goals and 42 points while averaging less than 15 minutes of ice time for the Avs last season.
Meanwhile, Rosen is a 25-year-old defenseman who has played eight career NHL games to this point.