Revisiting the Cam Barker Trade


Our very own SpaethCo brought up a topic on Twitter today:

Ok guys, remind me again why Leddy for Barker was a good trade.

Being that it is July 26th, and we have a little more than 70 days until the NHL starts up again, I figure rather than hash it out on Twitter in 140 characters at a time, we'll hash it out here. I'll provide my take, and look forward to getting insight from the huddled masses, desperate to talk hockey.

Ready? Go.

The Chicago Blackhawks needed to make a trade more so than the Wild needed to make a trade. What the Hawks wanted was expiring contracts to help them deal with their colossal salary cap issues. However, what the Wild wanted in return was worth more than simple cap relief.

Cam Barker, as you all should know by now, was the third overall selection behind Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin. That is impressive, and holds some clout, even if the numbers have yet to arrive. Remember, it takes time for a defenseman to become dominant in the NHL. Even more rare than forwards who can play on the top line are d-men like Tyler Myers.


Cam Barker

#45 / Defenseman / Minnesota Wild

6-3

215

Apr 04, 1986


 

One thing you should truly be looking at is how long it took Duncan Keith to unseat Nik Lidstrom for the Norris. Keith was drafted in 2002. Took him eight years to develop into the player he is today. I am not trying to tell you that Barker is going to win the Norris in two years, but rather making two points. One, it takes an amazing amount of time to develop a top pairing d-man. Two, Barker was buried on a third pairing in Chicago behind Keith, Campbell, Hjalmarsson, and Sopel.

Barker had 13 minutes of TOI per game in Chicago last season, sixth on the team for regularly playing defenseman. He has a solid two minutes of PP TOI /G, and was given a total of 1:42 of PK TOI for the entire season. Compare this to 22:01 in TOI /G, 2:32 of PP TOI/ G, and 37:35 in PK TOI in just 19 games with the Wild. Clearly, the Wild are going to give him his chance to shine.


Kim Johnsson

#8 / Defenseman / Chicago Blackhawks

6-1

193

Mar 16, 1976


 

Now, look at what he cost the Wild. Kim Johnsson and Nick Leddy. Johnsson is arguably one of the best puck-movers in the league, and this is a cost the Wild could ill-afford to pay. However, Johnsson was in the last year of his contract and had given no indication of wanting to re-sign with the Wild (at least that is what has been reported). Johnsson was (and is) in the twilight of his career. At 34 years old, Johnsson has few years left, and with his reported major concussion issues, may not have even a single year left.

Nick Leddy, while a top prospect, is a prospect. No one knows if the kid is going to turn out to be anything. We can watch him play with the Gophers and "ooo and awe" over his play, and then we can look at what Tommy Thompson said, that the Wild were worried about his development with the U. Fletcher denies the Wild had any issues, and Thompson is no favorite of anyone around Hockey Wilderness, but it still is out there.

Johnsson was not a huge loss, as much as it seems he was. The Wild were not going to make the playoffs, Johnsson was not coming back, so why keep him around? Would you rather have had another second round pick, which Chicago was unlikely to give up, or would you rather have Cam Barker? If you looking at the numbers, Cam Barker would be an amazing find in the second round.

Not to keep using SpaethCo's arguments as the basis of the opposite argument, but since he brought it up, I'm going to:

 Still feels like an awkward trade now that we have Cuma, Prosser, Scandella, Stoner all potent. ready to break into the lineup.

This is exactly what made Leddy expendable. Four solid prospects coming up, all very close to cracking the lineup. Leddy was no longer necessary, and if he was the additional cost to bring in Cam Barker, so be it. The Hawks wanted a prospect. Which one would you have sent? The four guys listed above, who will be on the team very soon, or Leddy, who would not have been?

But Buddha, Leddy is reported to have signed with the Hawks, and could likely be in the NHL this season.

Indeed. The rumors are being quashed right now, but it seems likely he will sign with the Hawks sooner than later. Now, ask yourself if the Hawks did not have the cap issues, would Leddy be signing there this season? I have pretty strong doubts about that.

The point with Leddy is that with the roster of d-men in Chicago, there is no way he is anything other than a third pairing guy, taking Barker's role, though likely with less PP time. That is if, and it is a strong if, Leddy even goes to Chicago immediately. No doubt he spends some time defending Huet in the AHL(too soon?), unless this is a very cap friendly deal.

Getting back to the prospects, Barker is not taking a spot from Cuma, Scandella, Prosser, or Stoner. Indeed, Stoner is on a one-way deal, and one of the remaining three is likely to make the team unless the Wild sign someone else before the season starts.Many fans see the pairing of Schultz and Burns as a foregone conclusion. Russo does as well, which does not bode well for me, but if I remember correctly, Burns and Barker spent quite a bit of time on the ice together at the end of the season.

My defensive pairings would be:

Zidlicky - Zanon

Burns- Barker

Stoner - Schultz

Prosser

This would give the Wild two top pairings, a so-called 1A and 1B, and a shut down pairing in the SS line.

The short version is this: Johnsson was on his way out, and was not a huge loss for the team, Leddy is an unknown and a gamble for both sides (one to lose that gamble, one to potentially win). Barker is a better defenseman than Wild fans are thus far willing to accept, but one that the Wild brass look to be giving every chance to succeed. At this point, with only 19 games with the team, it is very difficult to know how Barker will fit, what role he will play, or if he was worth the cost of Leddy.

Unfortunately, the deal involved three defensemen, a group notorious for taking a good deal of time to be able to answer questions about. It is still far too early to know if the Wild made a good trade, and it is very much too early to know what kind of player Barker will be for the Wild.

What say you, Wilderness? You have nothing else to talk about. Is it time to criticize the trade? To wonder about it? What is your take?

(Thank you to SpaethCo for raising the topic, and giving us something to discuss.)

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