Montreal Canadiens defenceman Mark Barberio has re-signed with the club according to Stu Cowen of the Montreal Gazette. The deal is worth $1.5 million total or $750,000 AAV.
— Stu Cowan (@StuCowan1) June 13, 2016
Barberio, 26, signed with the Habs after a 2014-15 stint with the Tampa Bay Lightning left him on the outside looking in. The 6’1″, 200lb defenceman from Montreal, Quebec signed with his hometown club and looked like a potential seventh defenceman for the club. However, despite a strong training camp where he looked like he could play on the third pairing, the Canadiens decided to instead go with 2011 first round pick Jarred Tinordi in the seventh defenceman role while Barberio would be sent to the St. John’s IceCaps of the American Hockey League.
In the AHL, Barberio proved to be one of the best offensive contributors to the club with 20 points in 26 games. With Tinordi only playing three games up with the Canadiens and generally disappointing, he would find himself traded to the Arizona Coyotes. Barberio came up to the club to play 30 games, scoring two goals and eight assists for what was a dismal season for the Habs. As the third left defenceman playing primarily third pair defence, Barberio didn’t just outplay the departing Tinordi but also Canadiens defenceman Alexei Emelin, who is still signed for two more seasons at $3.9 million per year.
Barberio’s feisty offensive instincts got the puck to the net more times than a third pairing defenceman would usually be expected to do, creating many high danger shots and effectively getting the puck into the offensive zone. Barberio only played 21:36 of powerplay minutes but his offensive drive on even strength could see him some second powerplay unit time should Andrei Markov or Nathan Beaulieu go down for a game. On March 12th and March 15th, Barberio’s development earned him more than 20 minutes of ice time, logging 25:22 against the Minnesota Wild and scoring a goal in the process.
As a hometown boy and a cheap free agent signing from the year prior, Barberio makes a great selection to play for the Canadiens in the upcoming season for a full schedule. The Canadiens would be smart to move Emelin’s contract and make room for him on the left side permanently.