Highly-anticipated first weekend of roster moves results in… Cam Barker and Jim Vandermeer

After one final day of legal dithering, the NHL finally got around to finalizing their new CBA late Friday night, and at midnight on the East coast, the rosters were unfrozen. Hockey fans had been waiting for this moment for four months, but it was finally here. Considering GMs had had 119 days to chat with one another informally and only a week to improve their roster before opening night, a flurry of moves was expected over the weekend. Many braced themselves for a sexy and exciting time.

I mean, heck, considering everything we’d heard about Roberto Luongo — the silly season that the entire last week had been and all the rumours that a deal was forthcoming the instant deals were allowed to be forthcoming — would he even remain a Canuck for one night? Most thought he’d be somewhere else by the time they woke up and, unwilling to miss it, refused to go to bed. Look at poor Cam Charron:

 

Like a kid sitting in front of the chimney on Christmas, he was. Word to the wise, Cam: a watched pot is never traded.

Unfortunately, instead of shocking moves calling for snap analysis, Canuck fans got Bieksa’s Buddies charity game LVP Jim Vandermeer on a one-year, two-way deal, and Cam “Franklin” Barker, whose much-maligned player tryout was upgraded to an even mucher-maligned one-year, $700,000 deal on Sunday afternoon. How fun!

I don’t have much of an issue with the Vandermeer signing. He’s a steady defender who might be able to help the Canucks’ depth, especially in a shortened season that will likely set an NHL record for strained groins. Plus, sure, he was bollocks in a charity game, but the guy has been sleeping outside of Rogers Arena for six months, like Zach Braff in The Last Kiss. You’ve got to reward that kind of desperate commitment.

So let’s talk about Barker.

Cam Barker’s stock has fallen precipitously since being drafted third overall in 2004, right behind Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin. After his trade out of Chicago, Barker played for the Oilers and Wild, which led to arguably the greatest accomplishment of the blueliner’s career: getting Minnesota and Edmonton bloggers to agree on something.

That something was that he was terrible. Here’s Bryan Reynolds of Wild blog Hockey Wilderness on Cam Barker, following a breakdown of his mediocre numbers in Minnesota:

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.

The Wild eventually bought Barker out, and he signed with the Oilers. Here’s Jonathan Willis of Oilers Nation on Barker’s play:

Cam Barker has easily been the worst of the Oilers’ regular defensemen since the first day he stepped into the lineup. All season he has been either the very worst or close to it in terms of scoring chance plus/minus. David Staples, who looks at scoring chances a different way – trying to analyze who directly contributed to each play – came away with the same data. Barker isn’t even Marc-Andre Bergeron, creating offense while allowing chances the other way – he’s been impotent offensively, recording one point in an hour of power play time and another point in 330 minutes in other situations.

Barker was not qualified by the Oilers and allowed to go to unrestricted free agency.

In short: Barker bombed spectacularly out of two markets that the Canucks have been beating up on for half a decade. And now he’s a Canuck.

Now, Barker likely won’t be in the lineup on opening night. He’s probably battling Vandermeer and Kevin Connauton for 8th on the Canucks’ depth chart, which means that he’ll only see action sparingly. Plus, if he’s as bad as some say, Alain Vigneault is bound to notice, especially since he pays attention to the underlying numbers. It’s easy enough to bury Barker in the minors if he continues to fail his way through the Northwest Division.

But still. For an opening weekend that was supposed to be a fun and sexy time, Barker seems like a cruel joke.

On the bright side, the signing of Barker was so distressing, we actually breathed a full-on sigh of relief when Vandermeer was announced Monday afternoon. Maybe that was the plan all along?

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48 comments

  1. Kesler's Nose
    January 14, 2013

    Barker and Vandermere, both couldn’t play for the Oilers and they are hurting for quality D Men. Oilers just signed Fistric from Dallas. Canuck management always playing for SECOND.

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    • Jesse
      January 14, 2013

      Oilers didn’t sign Fistric. They trade a 3rd for him. And I’m pretty sure Dallas has absolutely zero intentions of giving the Canucks a top six dman in any shape or form.

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      • Joel
        January 14, 2013

        I had the same initial reaction (I still have a Fistric Giants jersey, so I’m biased), but really he’d be too expensive as a depth Dman. Or he would bump Ballard out of the top six, and then we have an even more expensive Dman sitting in the press box eating up popcorn and salary cap space.

        I’d sure love his 200+ hits a season in the lineup though

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    • chicken chick
      January 14, 2013

      Is Cambo back in different clothes,
      With cynical words in puerile prose?
      Why must she so negative be,
      Seemingly snide deliberately?
      I don’t understand this Kesler’s Nose.

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      • Kesler's Nose
        January 14, 2013

        Nice try chick.
        No *rick
        Fancy Schtick
        No Cup chick

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    • Daniel Wagner
      January 14, 2013

      Oilers just traded for Mark Fistric, sending a third-round pick to Dallas for a bottom pairing defenceman. Meanwhile, Barker and Vandermeer are 8th and 9th at best on the Canucks’ depth chart.

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  2. Nee
    January 14, 2013

    “Cam “Franklin” Barker”

    Bahaha. So accurate.

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    • Kesler's Nose
      January 14, 2013

      Here’s another good one. Kassian on the second line!!!! You know you are playing for SECOND when that’s the scenario.

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      • Daniel Wagner
        January 14, 2013

        Yes, how dare the Canucks try their top prospect on the second line, where he might best use his offensive skill. How ludicrous for the Canucks to try him out in a scoring role. How preposterous that Bob McKenzie suggested prior to the start of training camp that the Canucks put Kassian on the top line in place of Alex Burrows. Clearly, you know better than everyone else.

        You, sir, are a pretty lousy troll. Try harder.

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        • Kesler's Nose
          January 14, 2013

          You, sir, are a hack journalist!! Please try harder. Oh I see, they are believing that Kassian on the Canucks is similar to Semenko on the Oilers. Good thinking. Nice dodgeball headband!

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          • Daniel Wagner
            January 14, 2013

            Thanks, it is a rather nice headband. I am glad you like it.

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            • Harrison Mooney
              January 14, 2013

              I like it too. Nice headband, Daniel.

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              Rating: +15 (from 21 votes)
            • Charles Knox
              January 14, 2013

              The same Barker who had the kissing disease that kept him out of the Juniors? Oh no! Keep Higgins and his proclivity to get wonky illnesses away from Carbam.

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            • Nee
              January 14, 2013

              You know you’re a big deal in sports journalism when someone calls you a hack journalist. You’ve made it Daniel!

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              • Daniel Wagner
                January 14, 2013

                Hooray! A winner is me!

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    • Kesler's Nose
      January 14, 2013

      Even the Oilers are laughing at the Canucks for signing Barker!!!

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      • Sans
        January 16, 2013

        The Oilers should not be laughing at anybody. They have become the joke-run organization that the Canucks once were. Except the Canucks tried to hard and refused to get first overall picks (a most egregious error methinks in hindsight).

        Does anyone else remember what it was like here troll-free? I seriously think it was the longest running troll-free sports blog anywhere in the webosphere. Kind of miss those good ol’ days. And fail to grasp the point or value to anyone, including the troll, of trolling. Hard to really imagine a sadder, more pathetic thing in all creation, randomly taunting nameless, faceless online anybodies for the sake of, uhh, something or other…anyhoo…

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      • Sans
        January 16, 2013

        That aside, Barker=terrible, and equally terrible signing. And I was a huge fan when he was in junior. But there’s just nothing there. He actually has skills, but seemingly he can’t think the game nearly fast enough to employ them usefully.

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  3. Joel
    January 14, 2013

    I think the next depth D signing should be Campoli. Apparently Canucks players spoke up to Gillis and AV about Vandermeer after all the time he spent training with them at UBC during the lockout.

    Now Campoli wasn’t at UBC, but he was battling for the NHLPA as part of the negotiating committee. And really, if there is any UFA defencemen that the Canucks owe big time… maybe Burrows should drop his name while talking with AV ;-)

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    • Kesler's Nose
      January 14, 2013

      Didn’t Campoli play for Chicago? wasn’t he the clown who served up that brilliant clearing pass to Rat Burrows during the playoffs? I could be wrong but if this is the same guy, great addition. hahahaha

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      • jimbob
        January 14, 2013

        well he knows how to pass to burrows, so maybe we should sign him

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        Rating: +9 (from 9 votes)
      • Joel
        January 14, 2013

        Yep, he was the hawks dman that set up Burrows for the dragonslaying goal.

        He is a UFA, and was involved pretty heavily in the CBA negotiations. Sportsnet has an article pondering if he is being blacklisted since he is better than other dmen that have been signed,

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        • Sans
          January 16, 2013

          that could be, but he could also be blacklisted for just generally being a d-bag. Screw Campoli.

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  4. Barry
    January 14, 2013

    Thanks for writing about the not as well-informed Canucks fans about Cam Barker!

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    • Barry
      January 14, 2013

      That didn’t come out right. Thanks for writing about Cam Barker for the not as well-informed fans.

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      • Kesler's Nose
        January 14, 2013

        huh…third time luck?

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  5. Josh D.
    January 14, 2013

    Two things, one, guys like Higgins and Lapierre bounced around teams in the years before we signed them and gave them a chance, and they’ve become important parts of this team. We also gave guys like Torres a chance to successfully revive their careers. Barker has a lot of baggage for sure, but when we’re signing him for less than a million on the hopes that he realizes this is his last chance? We could have the steal of the century here, and if it doesn’t pan out, we haven’t lost a thing.

    Vandermeer is very close to my heart, he was the captain of my hometown team (The Red Deer Rebels) when they won the memorial cup, so I’m glad to see a serviceable guy like him in the blue and green.

    All in all, very solid depth signings.

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    • Josh D.
      January 14, 2013

      If he realizes that this is his last chance and cleans up his act? It could very well just be. He was an absolute monster for Team Canada and at one point put up forty points in sixty eight games. But it’s no skin off our backs if he can’t do that. There is no reason to not like this signing.

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      • Joel
        January 14, 2013

        I agree, no real risk for the Canucks with his salary. And they aren’t counting on him to replace Salo or anything, he is auditioning for the 7/8 spot with Vandermeer, Alberts & Connaughton.

        I think its a decent signing with a big potential upside.

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    • Joel
      January 14, 2013

      When anyone asks Steve Tambellini for an opinion on how to build a team, they apparently missed his entire tenure as GM of the Oilers… you don’t collect a full power play unit of #1 overall picks by being awesome as a GM

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    • Sans
      January 16, 2013

      HA! the best part about that is that possibly the Canucks best move in years was not giving Tamby the GM job, even though he probably deserved it at the time and even I thought he got the shaft. But having watched since, sat beside him, listened to him blather, the dude is inept. Just a clueless schmuck with connections and a deep rooting in the old boys club that has not adapted with the times. A near-extinct dinosaur.

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  6. Joel
    January 14, 2013

    Maybe they finally realized they don’t need to spend good money to advertise a virtual monopoly on travel to Vancouver Island.

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  7. Daniel Cohen
    January 14, 2013

    keslers nose, respond to this post

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    • Nee
      January 14, 2013

      Hehe. There’s no way to “ban” someone in this type of comment board, is there?

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      • Blueliner
        January 14, 2013

        If there’s ever a time to create a ban function… now would be the time..

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  8. Howard
    January 15, 2013

    First they came for Kesler’s nose and I said nothing …

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  9. Kesler's Nose
    January 15, 2013

    so if someone says something yiou disagree with you “ban” them? What century is it please? Vancouver fan’s have such a thin skin.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      January 15, 2013

      No one has banned you. But you’re invited to knock off the trolling.

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  10. Mt
    January 15, 2013

    Just to clarify, Barker’s contract is one-way, yes? I would be cool with it if it was a two way contract, then there is no chance of wasting any cap-space on the guy once AV witnesses his first three turnovers (possibly on the same shift) and never plays him again. It’s not like he’ll surely gut snapped up on waivers.

    This is a case when I want to assume that the professional managers know better than I do, but it’s hard to see the hidden genius in this one. We’ll see, I guess. Uhg.

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    • Kesler's Nose
      January 15, 2013

      Great comments. You, unlike the majority of the bloggers, have seen Barker’s act…

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      • Daniel Wagner
        January 15, 2013

        What part of the article (the one you’re commenting on) would lead you to believe that we think the Barker signing is a good idea?

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        • Kesler's Nose
          January 15, 2013

          Why would management sign if they didn’t believe he was adequate? Joel’s comment”
          I agree, no real risk for the Canucks with his salary. And they aren’t counting on him to replace Salo or anything, he is auditioning for the 7/8 spot with Vandermeer, Alberts & Connaughton.

          I think its a decent signing with a big potential upside”

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          • Daniel Wagner
            January 15, 2013

            Ah, I see. You are, for some reason, using the word “blogger” in reference to a commenter. Weird.

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            • Kesler's Nose
              January 16, 2013

              Maybe I should have used “troller”?

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      • Sans
        January 16, 2013

        But you both fail to understand contracts. If he is, as I expect, absolutely useless, he can be demoted, paid full salary in the AHL, and not a dime counts towards the Canucks NHL cap. I have no interest in protecting any owners’ money after this most recent lockout, so who gives a shiz?!

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        • Sans
          January 16, 2013

          whoops, misplaced. /slide to above.

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  11. Billy
    January 15, 2013

    Ah yes, Kesler’s Nose. The type that pluralizes words with apostrophes. Back to elementary school with you.

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    • Kesler's Nose
      January 16, 2013

      Can I sit next to you?Go hug a tree!

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