In a perfect world Tyson Barrie would be playing meaningful hockey for the Nashville Predators right now and boosting whatever trade value he has left. That unfortunately hasn't been the case, making it all the more difficult to find a suitable trade partner for Barrie's services.
Barrie has been dealing with an upper body injury and hasn't played since December 23. Nothing much has been released on his return status over the last week or so, making it even more of a mystery on what's going on behind the scenes.
I'm sure General Manager Barry Trotz is working the phones trying to find an interested party for Barrie, but that's probably slim to none with Barrie missing so much time and not 100 percent healthy.
Other than Barrie, the Predators are surprisingly healthy for being this late in the season. No players are on injured reserve and Head Coach Andrew Brunette has his full arsenal available as he looks to find more depth scoring behind Ryan O'Reilly's top line that has just been feasting.
Barrie Hasn't Played in Nearly a Month, Trade Stock Plummets
The drama unfolded regarding Barrie wanting to be traded back in early December. It essentially got leaked from behind the scenes to the media, and no one was happy about the request being uncovered. Some thought the trade would happen pretty quick, but that didn't happen.
Barrie is a class act and great for any locker room. I'm just not sure the interest will be very high from playoff contending teams, but younger rebuilding teams should have a lot of interest in adding Barrie to their locker room.
As for the Predators, they are making it just fine without Barrie in the starting lineup. Believe it or not, Luke Schenn has been showing gradual improvement at least in the sense of being a big physical body and showing some veteran presence.
Schenn has five assists, 75 hits, 33 blocks, and a plus-2 plus/minus rating in 26 games. Although Barrie is obviously a totally different type of defenseman, in 30 games he provided just one goal, 11 points, six hits and 32 blocks and a minus-6 plus/minus rating.
With Barrie's prolonged absence, it has left Dante Fabbro in the starting lineup for good. When Barrie was more consistently in the lineup in December, it was Fabbro that was missing time due to it.
Fabbro may have his shortcomings, but he's an undisputed upgrade over Barrie. I like what the Predators are showing on defense as of late after a rough patch where they were getting carved up, and Juuse Saros was in return also getting blasted.
In the Predators' Thursday night win over the Kings, it was a disciplined defensive effort that shut down Kings offensive rushes by intercepting passes, blocking shots and killing four of five penalties.
So Barrie isn't really being missed by the Predators right now, but the issues isn't that. It's trying to get something, if anything, in return for him before he hits unrestricted free agency. The trade deadline is March 8, so there is still time to make this happen.
The question Head Coach Andrew Brunette will have to eventually answer is when Barrie does become healthy enough to play, do you put him there as a an audition for other teams, or do you healthy scratch him?
What to do With Barrie When he's Healthy to Play Again?
If you put Barrie in, who comes back out? I'm not on board with taking out Fabbro or Alexandre Carrier to give playing time to a player that's already basically got one foot out the door. The only logical replacement is Schenn, but as I previously stated, he's actually been playing better as of late.
The last thing the Predators need to do is shake up the chemistry in their defensive corps just to give Barrie some auditioning time. It's likely that Barrie is going to be rusty after missing at least a month of game action, and he wasn't playing at a high level before his injury to begin with.
The only way I see Trotz unloading Barrie is if he retains some of Barrie's salary cap hit and takes a bottom barrel draft pick at best. You would've liked to see Barrie flipped for a much better return when that Mattias Ekholm trade was made with the Oilers in February of 2023, but what can you do?
That trade wasn't a complete waste. At least the Predators acquired an additional first round pick and used it to get Tanner Molendyk who has a lot of promise and upside as a puck moving defensive prospect.
The Predators can still be a little patient before unloading Barrie. My concern is throwing him back into the lineup and throwing off chemistry after he gets healthy.
Trotz is just holding onto his cards for now because he has plenty of time before the trade deadline. Eventually he'll have to cave and take whatever he can get for Barrie in a trade, even if it's a $25 Amazon gift card.