His Bite Is Worse than His Barker

When Steve Tambellini signed Cam Barker this summer, we knew what the Oilers were getting based on resume. His recent injury then should be considered a stroke of good luck?

In the July 2nd post I linked to above, this was the main issue:

  • Did he ever–at any time–play tough minutes in the NHL? No. He didn’t in Minnesota and in Chicago they always had a better option. Whatever Barker’s value–real or imagined, it doesn’t appear in the secondary disciplines (that I can find).

So it set up an interesting situation for Oiler fans. Would coach Tom Renney use Barker as a 5-6D option against the NHL’s competition, or would he run him like a high profile $2.25M free agent?

According to Gabe Desjardins behind the net, Barker ranks 8 out of the 9 Oiler defensemen in terms of Qual Comp. Now, these things can sway here and there, but it does establish that coach Renney did not consider Barker a better option than Whitney, Gilbert or Smid. Or Potter. And Petry too when he was recalled.

Jonathan Willis puts it another way in his recent post.

  • Cam Barker’s been spotted lots of offensive zone minutes, mostly against lousy opposition, and he’s been hammered. Given that he missed the last two lopsided losses to Detroit and Chicago, his numbers could be even worse. It’s difficult to see his loss to injury as anything other than an opportunity for the superior Jeff Petry to get more minutes.

I think Oiler fans should rightly feel that this injury is a net gain on the blue. Petry here for more of the season, along with Whitney coming back (hopefully he’ll play long enough for us to get used to) should bode well for the team.

Cam Barker is looking at another pay cut next summer, and playing time is going to be an issue. Probably by the time he’s healthy again, as Petry is a good young player finding his way.

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