Alexander Kerfoot certainly isn’t a household name, but Tyson Barrie is chuffed the centre was included in the trade that brought the pair from the Colorado Avalanche to the Toronto Maple Leafs earlier this week.
Barrie (with half his salary remaining on the Avalanche books) was the main piece the Maple Leafs got in return for Nazem Kadri, Calle Rosen and a 2020 third-round pick. Kerfoot, however, was a lot more than a mere throw-in.
“He’s a Harvard grad, great kid, smart kid, and he’s a tremendous playmaker,” Barrie said of his teammate 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.”
The 2012 fifth-round pick of the Devils inked a four-year, $14-million contract with the Maple Leafs Thursday morning. Kerfoot’s new $3.5-million annual salary cap hit is $1 million less than what Kadri had been making as the team’s third-line centre.
Kerfoot hasn’t yet hit the 20-goal plateau – let alone the 32-goal mark that Kadri got to in back-to-back years before tallying just 16 this past season – but 34 goals and 85 points in his first two NHL season isn’t too shabby for someone counted on at both ends of the ice.
Among players who took at least 400 draws in 2018-19, Kerfoot’s 56 per cent faceoff success rate ranked 12th in the entire league – slightly ahead of Kadri’s 55.2 – and he improved nearly all of his possession metrics in his sophomore season.
Barrie’s presence on the Maple Leafs gives them another top offensive option on the back end after Morgan Rielly’s breakout 72-point campaign. Barrie’s 256 points in 378 games ranks ninth among all NHL blueliners over the past five seasons. By comparison, Rielly ranks 19th with 216 points in 397 games over the same time period.
The 27-year-old Victoria native explained that he was sitting on a patio with his sister and some friends celebrating Canada Day when he got a call from Avalanche Joe Sakic informing him of the move.
The initial shock has worn off and now Barrie says it’s “pure excitement” heading into 2019-20.
The Avalanche and Maple Leafs met twice in 2018-19 with Colorado winning on the road in January and the Leafs avenging that loss four weeks later in Denver.
Barrie remembers taking note of the skill on the Maple Leafs at the time.
“They’re so dangerous,” he said. “I think they’ve got good goaltending and they’ve got superstars up front who can put the puck in the net at any time and make you pay if you’re not paying attention.
“That game in Toronto I got burned once or twice by a couple guys, so it’s an exciting team to watch.”
Barrie is guaranteed a spot in the Leafs’ top-four, so it’s possible he could be paired on the right side of either Rielly or Jake Muzzin.
On paper, Leafs fans should be thrilled both options are open.
“I’ve played with Muzz before at the world championships,” Barrie added. “I loved playing with him and we did win that [year] but that’s up to the coaches and we’ll find out a bit more during training camp.”