Sunday, September 17, 2023

Predators Preview: Tyson Barrie Autograph Card

(team and product links go to sponsored Amazon products, player links go to related pages on my blog, news links go to source pages)

This will likely be the preface to all of this year's Season Preview posts: Unlike in the distant past where I would post different texts on this collectibles blog and my personal one, I've been using a new format for the past couple of years, where I'll copy the same text on each one. As a father of two young kids, I just do not have enough time to write two separate posts per day on each blog. This year again, the entire scope of the analysis will take place first and the featured player will have a direct or perhaps indirect connection to what's written, below.

Caveats: At this point, despite training camp being set to start in a couple of weeks, several players haven't found a team yet and a few clubs are currently above the salary cap, which means there is much maneuvering left to do.

Key exits: Matt Duchene (C), Ryan Johansen (C), Mark Borowiecki (D), Zach Sanford (LW), Rasmus Aplund (C), and Cal Foote (D).

Key Arrivals: Ryan O'Reilly (C), Gustav Nyquist (C), Luke Schenn (D), and Denis Gurianov (LW).

Top prospects: Yaroslav Asparov (G, 21 years old, generally seen as a "can't miss" prospect), Joakim Kemell (RW, 19 years old, exploded in the AHL but could benefit from a bit of seasoning), Luke Evangelista (RW, 21 years old, candidate for the All-Rookie Team), Zachary L'Heureux (LW, 20 years old, has a bit of Claude Lemieux in him), Matthew Wood (RW, 18 years old, an NCAA All-Star at age 17 last year), and Fedor Svechkov (C, 20 years old, did not get much of a chance in the KHL last season).

Former head coach Barry Trotz took over from the Nashville Predators' only other GM in team history, and the first thing he did was send away all the bad apples in the dressing room, and then he brought in guys who used to think they were franchise players but learned to win Stanley Cups by relying on their teammates - O'Reilly's pivot still got him a Selke and a Conn Smythe, while Schenn won two championships riding the third pair with the mighty Tampa Bay Lightning.

What makes their odds look good:
When you have a goalie like Juuse Saros, you have a chance. Factor in Roman Josi having another two-three years of prime hockey left in him and you have an above-average defense that can win you those 3-2 and 2-1 games.

Question marks: Is sophomore Tommy Novak really their #1 center? The offense is very below average, but responding to the right system and a few players playing above expectations would help drag the Preds to the middle of the pack.

They were a playoff bubble team last year and in terms of talent are about on the same level this year, except they have a new head coach in Andrew Brunette and his boss is one of the best bench strategists in NHL history, who will be able to help and give his protégé tips at any given time. Trotz and Brunette might be worth a few more wins, say 3 or 4, but that cannot be enough to bring Nashville to the postseason, which isn't the point this year anyway.

Sixth in the Central Division.

Trade deadline acquisition Tyson Barrie came over from the Edmonton Oilers last season having quarterbacked the best powerplay in NHL history (with the help of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to some extent, I guess). He can handle that task with the Predators as well, with help from Josi.

It hasn't always been perfect for Barrie, though. Since the last time I wrote about him, he also had a one-year stint with the Toronto Maple Leafs where it simply did not work out, stepping into an immuable environment, in the midst of a run of regular-season success and spectacular playoff failure; there simply was no place for him on that team. His move to Edmonton proved that it wasn't on him, however, and that he could still be a very appreciated player, both on the ice and in the locker room.

He led all NHL defensemen in scoring during the 2020-21 season, with 48 points in just 56 games, finished 12th in All-Star voting, but did not receive a single Norris Trophy vote - the first time in history the points leader at the position is entirely snubbed for the trophy.

Here he is sporting the Colorado Avalanche's white (away) uniform on card #A-TB from Upper Deck's 2015-16 Artifacts set and Autofacts sub-set:
Barrie has suited up for Team Canada multiple times, winning silver at the 2011 World Juniors and 2017 World Championships, as well as gold at the 2015 World Championships.

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