This is what Tyson Barrie, Alexander Kerfoot add to the Maple Leafs

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The Toronto Maple Leafs were involved in a colossal trade with the Colorado Avalanche on Monday, sending Nazem Kadri, Calle Rosen and a 2020 third-round pick in exchange for Tyson Barrie, Alexander Kerfoot and a 2020 sixth-round pick.

We like draft picks just as much as anyone, but Barrie and Kerfoot are slated to make an immediate impact on the Maple Leafs.

Without further ado, here’s how this trade affects the Leafs!

Tyson Barrie

Barrie is undeniably a top-four defenceman the Leafs have been craving, and ought to ease Morgan Rielly and Jake Muzzin’s workload during the 2019-20 season. Getting the tedious details out of the way first: the Avalanche retained 50 percent of his $5.5 million salary for the upcoming year, which has to be seen as a major coup for Kyle Dubas and his staff.

Now, onto the fun stuff.

Barrie can flat-out fly with the puck on his stick and is an excellent puck-moving defenceman, providing the Leafs with further mobility and skill on the back end. His 59 points in 2018-19 ranked seventh among all defenceman, and his playmaking, shot creation and breakout ability are all elite traits. Barrie boasted a 53 CF% during the regular season, a welcome addition to the Maple Leafs’ defense corps.

He’s got an excellent release and an ability to score from tight angles - as shown in the video below - will likely feature on the power play, and should make the Leafs less reliant on their patented set plays during the man advantage.

Barrie is particularly fond of a spin move in the offensive zone, baiting opportunistic forwards into a takeaway opportunity, then creating more room for himself to set up a chance or get a lethal snap shot off.

One of the hallmarks of the Maple Leafs 2018-19 season was their ability to connect on stretch passes, springing any number of their forwards on breakaway chances. Barrie launched passes up the ice routinely and boy, will his new teammates have a blast. (Kasperi Kapanen, William Nylander and Mitch Marner are the obvious candidates, and Barrie could have the time of his life dissecting flat-footed opponents).

The Athletic’s Dom Luszczyszyn put together a graph of where Barrie, Kerfoot and Kadri rank in a number of categories, and it’s undeniable that the 28-year-old is going to turn some heads at Scotiabank Arena and in surrounding bars, living rooms, podcasts, et. al.

Here’s where Barrie becomes complicated. At the risk of seeming overly simplistic, Barrie is a heightened version of Jake Gardiner, capable of offensive wizardry, but prone to calamitous defensive mistakes. If you thought Gardiner’s turnovers were maddening, Barrie might force you to take a lap or two every night as his lateral awareness needs significant improvement.

Barrie’s 28 takeaways against 41 giveaways are alarming, we’re not going to sugarcoat it. At some point this season, Maple Leafs fans will find themselves screaming at the television. But it doesn’t invalidate the rest of his highly-attuned game.

Overall, Barrie’s undeniable offensive production, speed, breakout ability, breakout passes, shot, and ability to log over 20 minutes a night (21:47 in 2018-19) could make him a fan favourite in Toronto. We’ll see if it leads to the Cup.

Alexander Kerfoot

Kerfoot is the less sexy component of the deal, but fits in the Leafs lineup immediately, most likely as the team’s third-line center, depending on how Mike Babcock wants to utilize William Nylander or the newly-acquired Jason Spezza, although Kerfoot should beat the latter handily. He’s a defensive specialist that Toronto’s forward group is sorely lacking and at 24, Kerfoot still hasn’t reached his prime.

OK, the counting stats first: Kerfoot notched 15 goals and 42 points for the Avalanche in 78 games during his second professional season, nearly identical totals from his rookie year. Kerfoot is a Harvard economics graduate to boot, so if the Leafs are ever bored on the road, perhaps he’ll read Amartya Sen’s seminal work, Development as Freedom, to his teammates (OK, probably not).

The center won 56 percent of his faceoffs on 489 attempts, and posted a 56.3 CF%, a delightful development for the Maple Leafs. He’ll likely occupy a role on the penalty kill for the Leafs, especially after Connor Brown was jettisoned to the Ottawa Senators.

Thomas Williams of The Leafs Nation noted that Kerfoot’s expected goals above replacement (GAR) is on par with some of the NHL’s best forwards.

Most of Kerfoot’s game is defined by rote steadiness, but he has the flair for the spectacular occasionally. Even the commentators are speaking to Kerfoot’s defensive mastery before he makes the Vancouver Canucks look completely foolish in the video below.

Kerfoot doesn’t have to be a primary scorer for the Maple Leafs and in fairness, he wasn’t asked to be that for the Avalanche either. It does seem apparent that there’s a defined role for him on the team, and his excellent faceoff ability, defensive responsibility and secondary scoring make him a key asset for the Maple Leafs. At 24, he’ll certainly be part of a young core that is highlighted by Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner (if and when he signs).

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