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Why You Should Not Want Your Team to Sign Cam Barker

Johnny Boychuk gives Cam Barker a clinic on shot blocking. It didn' t work.
Johnny Boychuk gives Cam Barker a clinic on shot blocking. It didn' t work.

With the news that Cam Barker was placed on regular waivers today, and the end result looking to be an eventual buyout, the NHL fan base is all abuzz. While fans in Toronto, Florida, Dallas, and elsewhere are calling for their GM to "take a risk," at least two fan bases know better. 

Wild fans, and those covering the team, have watched Cam Barker play 71 games in the NHL. We have seen the type of player he is, and what your team would be "taking a risk" on. While we don't make a habit of bashing players here at Hockey Wilderness, we felt it necessary to inform the readers just why your team should not make a claim on Cam Barker, nor sign him after the buyout. 

Cam Barker has been playing in the NHL for five NHL seasons (six if you count his one game in 2005-06). The entirety of his career has ridden on his being selected third overall in the 2004 draft, behind Alexander Ovechkin and Evegeni Malkin. He "has promise," has "upside," and has "never reached his potential." These are quotes we read when Cam Barker was traded to the Wild at the deadline in 2010. Heck, I'm pretty sure we even wrote some of them here at Hockey Wilderness.

Six years into his NHL career, he showed promise in one season, and has never come anywhere close to repeating that one season. The 2008-09 campaign saw him put up 40 points, and put 101 shots on goal. This is the basis the Hawks used to bilk the Wild for Kim Johnsson (an expiring contract the Hawks desperately needed) and Nick Leddy (a promising young defenseman & former first round pick). At the time, he had just 14 points in 51 games for the Hawks, was skating in the third pairing, and had taken 74 SOG.

Once he got to Minnesota, over parts of two seasons, and those 71 games, he put up a total of 12 points with just two goals, and was a combined -12. He blocked 61 shots last season in 52 game splayed, two fewer than Marek Zidlicky, the Wild's offensive defenseman who is considered a defensive liability by many. He put just 44 shots on goal, and accounted for five total points. 

To contrast that offensive output, Jared Spurgeon put in four goals, and added eight assists in just one more game played than Barker, and a full 54 minutes fewer of TOI. All of this by a rookie d-man who is five inches shorter (conservatively) and at least 30 pounds lighter than Barker.

So far, you have been shown that Barker has limited ability offensively and limited ability defensively. While that should be enough alone to understand why Barker is the wrong decision for your team, just as the snake oil guys on TV say, "Wait, there's more."

Barker laid 68 hits in the 2010-11 season, just two more than the known physicality of Zidlicky. He was trusted with just 43 minutes of PK time all season, and did nothing with his 71 minutes of PP time. He has never played more than 70 games, he has just one positive +/- season, and has been (likely) dismissed by two teams already.

These are the statistics. They are there for you to see, and for you to debate their value. However, there are things that are not represented on paper. Things like his positioning, his skating (we compare his skating ability to that of Kobe Bryant), his speed, his emotion, his physicalness, and his ability to clear the crease.

To sum up, he is terrible positionally, he looks to have cinder blocks taped to his legs when he skates, has speed that rivals that of Andrew Brunette (no offense Andrew), has as much emotion on the ice as Johnny Five, and skated away from players that had destroyed Niklas Backstrom in the crease more times than should be allowed for an NHL defenseman. 

If you follow Mike Russo, any of the writers here at Hockey Wilderness, or really any Wild fan on Twitter, you have read tweets every night wondering what Cam Barker was thinking about. It even spawned a twitter meme this season. His robotic nature on the ice is the stuff of legend here in Saint Paul. 

The folks at Second City Hockey would be more than happy to give you their opinion on Cam Barker, should you wish to venture a visit. In his best season, the folks over there gave him a B, mentioning the exact same liabilities I mentioned above. Poor positioning, poor speed, lack of emotion (they called him "The Accountant"). 

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.

  • Offense: No
  • Defense: No
  • Physical play: No
  • Great skating: No
  • Puck mover: No
  • Crease clearer: No
  • Leadership: No
  • Emotion: No
  • Cheap: Most likely
So, if you want to give a guy his third chance to make it work, so be it. The only reasoning I have seen so far is that he is going to be cheap. There are a great deal of inexpensive defensemen on the market according to Cap Geek. Most of the names available will provide at least two or three of the categories listed above. Cam Barker provides zero. The only thing you get for signing Cam Barker is a former third overall pick.

If you're willing to sign a player based on that, Alexandre Daigle is holding for you on line two.