Welcome to another WHL Best of the 2010s feature where we profile the best WHL players from the 2009-10 season all the way to the 2019-20 season. Players are judged based on what they did in each division. This means if a player spent time in multiple divisions, their placement will be judged based on what they did separately while in each division. Don’t forget to vote on our Twitter page, @WHLonA51 to help determine which player will be crowned the best WHL player of the 2010s. We hope you enjoy.
It’s safe to say hockey is in Tyson Barrie’s blood. His father, Len Barrie, played in the NHL and co-owned the Tampa Bay Lightning after retiring, while his uncle Mark is the lead hockey instructor at a high school in BC, and his other uncle, Mike, was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres. His grandfather, Len Barrie, Sr., runs a hockey academy in BC, where Barrie often volunteers during the off-season.
Although Barrie only played two of his four full seasons between 2009 and 2011, he is a must-include on this list as he was so dominant during those years. During his final two seasons, he scored 30 goals and added 100 assists in 117 games. Truly, one of the best defenceman during the 2010s.
Barrie began his junior career with the Kelowna Rockets toward the end of the 2006-07 season. He proved early that he could carry the mail, leading the Rockets’ defensemen with nine goals, 34 assists, and 43 points in his first full season. As a result, he was selected to the CHL All-Rookie Team in 2008.
In his second season, he improved on those numbers with 12 goals and 52 points in the regular year and 18 playoff points, including the game-winner in overtime of game six against the Calgary Hitmen to win the WHL’s Ed Chynoweth Cup.
The next year, he was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in the third round, 64th overall, and given the A by the Rockets. Despite suffering an injury early on that had him out for over a month, he still co-led all WHL defensemen for the 2009-10 season, putting up 72 points in 63 games and winning the Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy as the WHL’s Defenseman of the Year.
In his fourth and final year, he was named captain of the Rockets and began to focus on improving his all-around game. During this time, he studied players in the NHL such as Mike Green and Kris Letang—smaller defensemen with high offensive output—and modelled his style of play after them. Despite lowering his offensive output, as a result, he still led all Rocket defensemen with 58 points in 54 games and was selected to an All-Star team for the fourth time for his performance.
That year, he was also selected to be part of Canada’s 2010-2011 World Juniors team, joining six other defensemen in the hunt for the IIHF World Junior Championship and coming home with a silver medal.
Barrie finished his outstanding junior career in 2011 when he signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Colorado Avalanche and left the Kelowna Rockets with a staggering 228 points in 256 games, a record that stands to this day.