Tag: Kim Johnsson

Cam Barker, Patrick Marleau

Can Cam Barker get his career back on track in Edmonton?


The Chicago Blackhawks parted ways with a lot of talent after they won the 2010 Stanley Cup, but there was one should-be “star” who didn’t even make it that far: Cam Barker.*

The Blackhawks wisely got rid of the so-so offensive defenseman’s pricey $3.08 million cap hit by trading him to the Minnesota Wild for what amounted to an expiring contract in Kim Johnsson on February 12, 2010. After putting up 40 points in just 68 games played 2008-09, Barker’s play was already slipping a bit in Chicago; he managed 14 points in 51 games before that trade. His game really fell off the map in Minnesota, though, as he only scored seven points in 19 games to finish the 09-10 season and was downright pitiful in 2010-11 (five points in 52 games with a -10 rating).

Rather than stomaching the final year of that weighty contract, the Wild opted to buy out Barker during this off-season. Barker and the Wild can sugar coat that decision by saying it was “just business” but the ultimate message is that the defense-starved franchise paid Barker to go away.

Luckily for Barker, the hockey world tends to give top-five draft picks a chance or two at redemption (at least when they’re still young – Barker is just 25 years old). The even more defensively decrepit Edmonton Oilers decided to take a short-term risk on Barker, signing him to a one-year, $2.25 million contract.

I must admit that I snickered at the idea on first impact, especially since Barker is known for being a bit of an … adventure in his own end. The dollar amount seems a tad bit high for a player whose stock is at an all-time low, but the one-year deal makes it an intriguing gamble for Edmonton. Let’s not forget that Barker hasn’t had a lengthy fall from grace; he’s only two seasons removed from being a fairly prolific contributor on the Blackhawks blueline. Barker also dealt with some injuries last season, so it’s possible that a cleaner bill of health might help him rebuild his career.

This Winnipeg Sun piece reveals that Barker is optimistic about bouncing back during what could be a pivotal season in his still-young career.

“You’re hurt, you’re coming back from injuries, it’s really tough to get the ball going,” he said. “And I didn’t start off the season that well. A lot of contributing factors, but I’m feeling healthy now, completely good to go.

“It (being released) worked out for the best, for me anyway. I end up in a great place in Edmonton.”


“It’s a huge year for me,” he acknowledged. “It’s when I reestablish myself and get back to where I was two, three years ago.”

While I’d wager that Barker probably won’t heal many of Edmonton’s wounds, it’s not outrageous to wonder if they might benefit quite a bit from the gamble. If nothing else, Barker will get every opportunity to sink or swim on a threadbare Oilers defense.

* -Scoff all you want at the notion that Barker should be a star, but he bares the weighty historical burden of being drafted right after Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin in 2004.

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman loses his voice discussing deals today

Stan Bowman

Judging from the massive (but mostly justifiable) five-year, $29 million deal the Blackhawks signed with Brent Seabrook, it’s reasonable to say that Chicago GM Stan Bowman already had a busy weekend.

Yet there’s no time for Bowman to relax with the trade deadline set to expire Monday afternoon. Even though his team seems to be on an upswing with three wins in a row, they find themselves outside the Western Conference’s top eight as of this writing, so it’s understandable that he might want to make a tweak or two.

Bowman’s probably been piling up a hefty cell phone bill lately. CSN Chicago’s Tracey Myers reports that Scotty Bowman’s son has been discussing possible deals with other GMs so frequently on Trade Deadline Eve that he’s starting to lose his voice. Perhaps he needs a lozenge almost as much as his team will need to dump salary this coming summer.

“I’m losing my voice here a little. I’ve been on the phone all day,” he said.

Indeed, Bowman has been burning up the phone lines, making plenty of calls to acquire a center or defenseman before the NHL trade deadline expires at 2 p.m. CST Monday.

After a flurry of trade activity throughout this last week, Sunday has been very quiet. With less than 24 hours remaining before the deadline, Bowman said it was “still optimistic” that a deal would be done.

“There’s a lot of talking still but it’s probably one of those things where the first domino has to fall and then I think it’ll spur other things,” he said. “If we end up with the group we have now, I’m very comfortable with that. But we’re aggressively trying to improve the team.”

It might be reasonable to assume that tomorrow’s trade deadline won’t be as hectic as last year’s quantity-over-quality afternoon since there’s been an impressive flurry of moves already. That being said, there are still plenty of interesting possibilities as teams try to gear up for their final playoff pushes or prepare for the future by jettisoning unnecessary veterans.

The Blackhawks probably need to keep their focus on players with expiring deals only, especially if they opt to make a deal like last year’s cap-friendly Cam Barker for Kim Johnsson trade. (Of course, they’re unlikely to find another GM who wants to get rid of some of their dead weight, unless there are some Brian Campbell fans we don’t know about.)

The team is suffering a bit after being forced to shed some of the depth that made them such a tough team last season, but with prorated cap hits making certain deals slightly more affordable, the deadline might be a good time to bolster their lower ranks.

Naturally, stick with PHT for timely and informative updates regarding the one type of deadline that almost everyone loves.