Monday, September 12, 2011

Is Cam Barker a Top Four Defenceman?


The Edmonton Oilers decided to take a flyer on a former third overall draft pick this summer and signed Cam Barker to a one year contract. The Oilers are hoping they have found that young defenceman who can play top four minutes and quarterback their power play. Barker is hoping he has found a new home where he will be given the opportunity to get his NHL career back on track. I can not see this signing taking place, from either side, unless the mindset is for the 25 year old rearguard to slot in the clubs top two pairings. Barker is coming off an awful season in which he registered only 5 points while playing in 52 games for the Minnesota Wild. To make matters even worse, he missed 25 games due to injury and was a healthy scratch on five occasions. Not exactly a stellar season from the Manitoba native but lets not forget that the Wild bought him out this off season. In their minds, it made more since to cut ties then to try and work with him to find his game.

Looking at Barker's NHL numbers, the one stat line that really jumps out at you are his 2008-2009 numbers. He managed to put up 40 points for the Chicago Blackhawks in only 68 games and 29 of them were on the power play. The best point total he has been able to muster up in his other NHL seasons was 18 points.in the 2007-2008 campaign. Which player is he? One thing is very evident, when he left Chicago his numbers really went in the toilet.

As a Hawk, Barker played with elite level talent and ran the PP in the 2008-2009 season before handing the reigns over to Duncan Keith. In his short stay with the Wild, he did not have the same luxury and the drop in his point production followed suit. In the 200 games he played in the windy city, Barker managed to put up 80 points which works out to 0.40 PPG. Over parts of two seasons, he played 71 games in Minnesota and managed to put up only 12 points for a 0.17 PPG total. Signing with Edmonton, he will be back in a setting where he once again will be playing with high end talent. Look for his numbers to rebound back to his days in Chicago.

Unless they show absolutely no chemistry during training camp, you would think Barker's partner  will be none other then Ryan Whitney. Whitney will allow him to simplify what he does on the ice and ease his way into relocating his game. Since arriving in Edmonton, #6 has made a habit of having his partner raise their level of play dramatically and I would be very surprised to not see Barker continue that trend. Also, the pair will man the points on the top power play unit for the coming season. This should be the area that Edmonton will get the biggest bang for their buck from the former Medicine Hat Tiger standout. Adding his big shot from the point to the Oilers lack luster attack when they have the man advantage along with the experience he brings of playing with the aforementioned elite puck moving power play in Chicago, should be a huge addition to the PP.

You would think, Cam Barker should fit in very nicely with the young core group in Edmonton and that he will relish being given every opportunity to succeed in the coming season. That was not always the case in Minnesota but with the Oilers in dire need of upgrading their talent on the blueline, it will definitely be the case in Oil Country. Even before the signing was made official, it seemed like the two were a perfect fit for one another...now lets see if that ends up being the outcome.

2011-2012 Prediction:   8 G - 26 A - 34 Pts

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