While offensive blueliner Tyson Barrie may have been the name that turned Toronto Maple Leafs fans’ heads on Monday, the 27-year-old was recently singing the praises of Toronto’s other acquisition in the trade that sent Nazem Kadri and Calle Rosen to the Colorado Avalanche.
“He’s a Harvard grad, great kid, smart kid, and he’s a tremendous playmaker,” Barrie said of Alexander Kerfoot Thursday during an appearance on Prime Time Sports. “Good skater. I think you guys are really going to love him. I was really happy to see him come with me. He’s going to be a good player in this league for a lot of years.
“He’s got some of the best vision I’ve ever played with, so he’s a sneaky player.”
That’s a glowing review from Colorado’s all-time leader in defenceman scoring.
Toronto supporters likely knew what they were getting in Barrie — an offensive, puck-moving defenceman who knows how to run a power play. Kerfoot, however, may have been a bit of a question mark.
Entering his third season in the league, Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas showed his confidence in the Vancouver native by inking him to a four-year, $14 million deal on Thursday.
Following four years at Harvard in which the fifth-round pick of the New Jersey Devils in 2012 saw his point total increase every season, he stuck with the Avalanche immediately in 2017-18.
In his first full season of professional hockey, everything that Kerfoot touched seemed to turn to gold as he led the NHL — along with William Karlsson of the Vegas Golden Knights — with a shooting percentage of 23.4%.
His 19 goals that year placed him ninth among rookies, while his 43 points was 12th.
The impressive thing about him, though, is that he was able to produce as consistently in his sophomore season despite his shooting percentage dropping back down to Earth. His 15 goals and 42 points in 2018-19 both sat sixth on the Avalanche.
More importantly, though, he grew as an NHL centreman as his face-off percentage skyrocketed from 42.1% to 56.0%.
Slotting in as the third centre on the Maple Leafs behind Auston Matthews and John Tavares, his upside, potential and room for growth at a cap hit that’s $1 million less than what Kadri’s was should have all of Toronto licking its lips.
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