Tag: reclamation projects

Toronto Maple Leafs v New Jersey Devils

Joffrey Lupul demands your attention with hat trick


Obviously, the biggest story of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ early season success is the league leading production of Phil Kessel, who upped his total to 20 points tonight. Kessel isn’t the only oft-criticized “one dimensional” resurgent right-handed winger (catches breath) in Toronto, though. His frequent linemate (and hasty Halloween costume designer) Joffrey Lupul is on quite the tear in his own right.

Lupul scored a hat trick in Toronto’s 5-3 win against the New Jersey Devils to move his points total to 14, including eight tallies. He’s just four points away from tying the 18 he produced in the 29 games he played after being traded.

For a while, it seemed like Lupul’s hockey gravestone would read “Guy who kept being the consolation prize in trades.” That was especially true with Chris Pronger; Lupul was involved in two trades for the elbow-throwing All-Star defenseman: once in 2006 and then in 2009.

He’s never bested the 53 points he scored in his second season with his first team, the (then Mighty) Anaheim Ducks, but maybe some of that has to do with the perennial uproar Lupul dealt with? He’s played on four different teams and made two tours of duty with the Ducks in his eight NHL seasons.

The law of averages says that he won’t continue to shoot at 21.6 percent, much like Kessel won’t maintain his 23.8 rate. Still, it’s quite possible that both can maintain at least some of their momentum and help their team continue to “outscore their problems.”

Lupul might even find a semi-permanent home in Toronto in the process.

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

Cam Barker, Patrick Marleau

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.