Cam Barker - photo courtesy Wikipedia

The New Guy: Predicting Cam Barker’s 2011-12


Depending on who you ask, Edmonton’s pickup of Cam Barker is either a sleek little free agent acquisition, or the NHL-equivalent of a two hundred pound sack of potatoes.

So which Cam Barker do the Oilers get this year?  Undiscovered jewel, or produce market?

Jason Bonsignore - photo courtesy Edmonton Journal

Did you miss last week’s dust-up with Jason Bonsignore and Gene Principe?  What a great moment that was in Oiler Radio Moments. Principe was filling in for Jason Gregor on the Jason Gregor show, when special guest Jason Bonsignore was a featured guest.  Bonsignore was…uh, ‘candid’ for the interview. (seriously, just go listen to it if you haven’t yet.  Good, good radio)

The reason I bring up Jason Bonsignore in an article about Cam Barker are because of the lofty expectations predicted for a guy drafted where he was.  Bonsignore was drafted fourth in 1994. I won’t speculate on why his numbers (seriously, just listen to the interview) didn’t pan out.  Eventually, Bonsignore was dealt to the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Bonsignore finished with sixteen career points in the NHL.

Cam Barker carries with him the distinction of being the first defenceman drafted in2004 as well as being the third overall pick in that year’s draft.  Chicago tendered Barker’s services until the 2009-10 season when he was dealt to the Minnesota Wild.  The Wild bought Barker out his contract which ended in 2011-12.  He’s now a member of the Edmonton Oilers on a one-year deal.

Uh-oh.

Two SBNation communities are telling you he isn’t worth it, even at a minimum contract. The objective media is telling you he isn’t worth it. Two NHL General Managers have (or are about to) rid themsleves of him. It makes little sense to this humble writer why anyone wants him at any price.

Bryan Reynolds from Hockey Wilderness (29 JUN 2011)

A damning testimony if there ever was one.  I’m going to go off the grid here and assume that Cam Barker isn’t Paul Coffey, but what if he’s a bit better than Theo Peckham?  Don’t think I can speak for Minnesota, but during Barker’s time with Chicago, Chicago was flooded with NHL capable defencemen. Rose-coloured glasses firmly attached, sometimes, a young guy can get lost in a system with a D-man roster containing Duncan Keith, Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Seabrook, Brian Campbell and Nik Hjalmarsson.

This club needs Cam Barker to play eighty injury-free games.  That’s a tall order for a team that’s lost several hundred man-games to injury over the past couple of seasons, but if Barker can stay healthy on this incarnation of the Oilers (read:  help to allow less goals), then he’ll be an appropriate fit on this club. I’m not looking for a powerplay quarterback, but I’d like a little bit of PK if you please.  I know it’d be nice to have a couple of Ryan Whitneys floating on this team, but there’s only one Ryan Whitney, and hopefully he’s feeling like a suitcase full of hundreds in a couple of days.

The guy likely won’t live up to being drafted third overall in 2004.  If he can help the Oilers defence allow less goals this year than in the past couple, then welcome aboard, Cam Barker.

SO YOU’RE SAYING WHAT I THINK YOU’RE SAYING

Yes, I’m saying that if Barker can stay healthy, he’ll be fine.

PREDICTION

4G-17A-21PTS (76 GP)

Barker needs to have an injury free campaign in order to prove his worth.  This is true with a hundred percent of the players in the NHL, but this year could be Barker’s last stab.

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