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:
The Chris Pronger trade happened overnight. No way am I missing snap analysis for a Lu trade. Been prepping for months…
— Cam Charron (@camcharron) January 13, 2013
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?Tags: Cam Barker, Free Agent Fizzle, Jim Vandermeer