The 22nd installment of our 25 Montreal Canadiens in 25 days series takes a closer look at defenceman Mark Barberio.
Any player that manages to get over 100 NHL games in as a former sixth-round draft choice deserves respect.
The experience Barberio’s accrued should prove valuable as he tries to cement a full-time job in Montreal. At 25, his physical edge and passing ability has made him a capable NHL player. The question is: will his scoring success at the lower levels of hockey translate into more offence from him at this level?
He scored 46 goals and 168 points in 261 games spent mostly with the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL before managing 22 goals and 92 points (142 games) in his first two seasons with Tampa Bay’s former AHL affiliate the Norfolk Admirals. In 2012, he and the Admirals won the Calder Cup and he was named the AHL’s most outstanding defenceman.
In 2012-13, Barberio put up eight goals and 42 points in 73 games with the Syracuse Crunch. He hasn’t played a game in the AHL since.
He scored five goals and five assists in 49 games in his first full season with the Lightning (2013-14.) And in 2014-15, he scored a goal and six assists in 52 regular season games before appearing in the Eastern Conference final against the New York Rangers.
Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin is a big believer in having depth on defence, and his decision to bring Barberio in is an example of that.
In his third NHL season, Barberio gives the Canadiens yet another option to turn to on the back end and he could be ready to prove he’s worthy of a bigger assignment.
Who: Mark Barberio l No. 45 l depth defenceman (shoots left) l 6-foot-1 l 207 lbs l Age: 25 l
Acquired: Signed as a UFA
Contract status: 1 year (two-way), $600,000 AAV ($250,000 AHL) (Expires 2016)
2014-15 Stats: 52 GP l 1 G l 6 A l 7 P l 16:46 TOI l 52.8 CF%
Career stats: 103 GP l 6 G l 11 A l 17 P l 15:36TOI l 51.6 CF%
The book on 2014-15:
For a player that played as sporadically as Barberio did in Tampa, he proved serviceable.
When he was in the lineup, Barberio averaged between 17-21 minutes of ice time. Despite his offensive ability, he wasn’t tested much on the power play. Instead, he averaged 48 seconds per game on the penalty kill and 15:35 at even strength.
Even so, Barberio’s only goal on the season was a powerplay marker scored in a 5-1 win over Detroit on January 9. And Canadiens fans would be pleased to know that two of the Montreal native’s six assists were registered in separate games against the Boston Bruins.
The Lightning’s defence was relatively unscathed throughout the playoffs. As a result, Barberio only played a single game on the team’s run to an eventual Stanley Cup final loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
On July 1, the Canadiens signed Barberio to a one-year, two-way contract.
“I had heard nothing but great things about the chemistry in the Canadiens room,” said Barberio in September. “Now I’ve seen it firsthand. The guys are all super welcoming, and I can’t describe how it feels to be a part of this team.”
The Canadiens were among the healthiest teams in the NHL in 2014-15 and if they continue on that path for 2015-16, it will be difficult for Barberio to keep a spot in Montreal–even as a healthy scratch.
Barberio’s two-way deal guarantees him a $250,000 salary in the AHL, which may serve to protect Montreal from losing him on waivers should they elect to send him to Saint John’s at the start of the season.
For now, he’s in a battle with prospect Jarred Tinordi to serve as the first replacement on Montreal’s left side of the defence corps.
Barring a trade on the blueline or an injury to any one of Andrei Markov, Nathan Beaulieu or Alexei Emelin, Barberio will remain on the roster’s bubble. But it’s a long season, and he’s all but guaranteed to play some games for the Canadiens at one point or another.