The evidence is in on Mark Barberio, after a season and a half in the Canadiens organization. As some of us suspected, he’s a good organizational #7-8 defenceman, but if he’s a regular on your third pairing, you’re looking for an upgrade on your blueline. This is no surprise, for a player who the Lightning allowed to walk, rather than qualify as a RFA at nearly a million dollars.
We pulled the same stunt once with Yannick Weber, we preferred to allow him to go with no compensation rather than pay him a million dollars, and we never looked back. Yannick grimly hung on as the #7-8 defenceman in Vancouver, had stretches when he played well and vivified the powerplay, but again was allowed to walk after a couple of seasons. This year, he’s apparently caught on as a third-pairing guy in Nashville, he fits their ideal profile of the new NHL defenceman. He scored his first goal in two seasons this week.
Getting back to Mark, it’s funny that Steve Yzerman is lionized as the uber-GM, the wheeler and dealer and talent-finder that Marc Bergevin will never be, yet when it comes to Mark Barberio, a faction on social media thought he’d been a dunce, that he’d let a player who could replace Nathan Beaulieu or Andrei Markov eventually slip through his fingers.
The qualifying offer provision in the CBA is a great advantage to teams, they can retain RFA’s by giving them a token raise, yet Steve Yzerman didn’t think Mark was worth that. He didn’t mind losing him, preferred letting him walk rather than having to pay him…
…110% of $874,125 on a one-way deal. The Canadiens got him at $600 000, and $325 000 in the AHL.
Basically, Steve Yzerman established a ceiling on Mark Barberio, put a maximum dollar amount on that value, and walked away. And has been proven more right than wrong.
We were lectured by a more acidic commenter that Mark had nothing left to learn in the AHL, that he was a NHL defenceman, the new prototype who can skate and make passes and create offence. In fact, we’ve apparently reached the ceiling for Mark: first-pairing defenceman and leader in the AHL, bottom-pairing or #7 in the NHL. Steve Yzerman was right, not the ever-optimistic Canadiens fans.
There’s no need to get down on Mark though, he’s good to have in times like these, when two of the regular defencemen are injured. He won’t win you any games, but he won’t lose you some like Ryan Johnston and Joel Hanley can. He’s a local boy who can play a few seasons for the Canadiens and contribute, maybe having to start seasons in the AHL, but a great option to have when injuries strike and you need to call up someone.
Again, not saying Mark is horrible or worthless, but that we have to keep our expectations reasonable, especially considering his track record.