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New contract in hand, Barrie hopes to get Avalanche into playoffs

Who could blame Tyson Barrie if he is humming the old Johnny Nash tune I Can See Clearly Now.

Who could blame Tyson Barrie if he is humming the old Johnny Nash tune I Can See Clearly Now.

Because he can, at least for the next four NHL seasons

The Juan de Fuca Minor Hockey product was signed to a four-year, $22-million US contract this week by the Colorado Avalanche. That avoided an arbitration ruling, which was pending.

“It was an interesting situation,” said Barrie, of the process, which netted him the deal worth $5.5 million per season.

“We got something done, and I’m happy about that. I love the city of Denver, the fan base and my teammates.”

The 25-year-old Barrie, one of the better youthful puck-moving defencemen in the NHL, led the Avalanche in points by a blue-liner each of the past two seasons. He is only five-foot-10 but his speed expands the ice for the Avs.

Each of the past two seasons, however, has failed to produce a playoff appearance, despite a promising run to the post-season in 2013-14 by what then seemed an emerging young Colorado team.

“There was a lot of disappointment the last two years because we felt we let the fans down,” said Barrie, who had 13 goals (five of them game winners) and 49 points in 78 games last season.

The Islander is entering his fifth season with the Avalanche.

“We need to continually push to get better and make the playoffs on a consistent basis, season to season,” said Barrie.

He now has four more years to work on it.

Barrie has spent the summer to date “golfing, training and enjoying beautiful Victoria,” in his annual hometown off-season retreat. He got back on skates two weeks ago at Westhills Arena while the dryland workouts at PISE are beginning to pick up pace.

“It’s time to start ramping it up,” he said.

Meanwhile, Garry Nunn of Victoria was welcomed into the Avalanche fold by signing an AHL contract with the San Antonio Rampage, which is Colorado’s top farm team. The nimble, five-foot-nine, 26-year-old former Victoria Grizzlies forward scored seven goals and 14 points in 16 games last season with the Rampage after starting the season with 11 goals and 44 points in 43 games with the Atlanta Gladiators of the ECHL.