by Lisa Brown on 02/17/12 at 04:30 AM ET
When Cam Barker was bought out by his second NHL team, the Minnesota Wild during the off-season, fan and writer reaction was that it was a good idea. Yet when he signed a one-year contract worth $2.25 million with the Edmonton Oilers, it seemed to be a low risk gamble. Unfortunately for the Oilers, it seems as though they have lost that gamble.
The Oilers’ blueline has needed help for longer than just this season and the former first round pick Barker was supposed to come in and provide defensive reliability and take pressure off of the developing players. Instead, Barker has missed months due to an ankle injury and the only thing reliable about Barker’s game has been that he has drawn criticism on a regular basis.
The trouble is that the Oilers don’t have any other options at this point of the season. They only have so many veterans, and are working to develop players like Jeff Petry and Theo Peckham on the back end this year. There is also Corey Potter who is also just now breaking into the NHL despite the fact that he is in his late twenties, unlike the other rookies.
There is also the matter of injuries. Ryan Whitney has played only 25 games this season after a long recovery to an ankle injury and Tom Gilbert missed a month due to injury as well. At the same time, there have also been Andy Sutton’s suspensions. What this adds up to, is the Oilers being unable to afford high pedigree, veteran defencemen to play at anything less than their best.
Unfortunately for Barker, if this is his best, he will be looking for his fourth NHL team this off-season. At least, Oilers’ fans can only hope. In fact, if any GM called looking for Barker, you would be hard pressed to find someone in Edmonton opposed to the trade.
Looking back at what Minnesota Wild writer Bryan Reynolds had to say when Barker was placed on waivers you wish that Oilers’ GM Steve Tambellini didn’t think that the Oilers could bring out the best in Barker.
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.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
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