Today on Minnesota Wild A-Z we feature Cam Barker. He’s 28 years old, weighs in at 215 pounds and stands 6′ 3″ tall. Cam was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on April 4th, 1986. He’s a left handed shot defenseman.
Cam is a bit of a sore spot with fans of the Minnesota Wild. He was brought to Minnesota in one of, if not the worst trade in Minnesota Wild History. It is by far the worst trade made by Current General Manager Chuck Fletcher. On February 12, 2010 the Wild sent Kim Johnsson and Nick Leddy to the Chicago Blackhawks for Cam Barker.
Johnsson was an established NHL defenseman with 731 games played for the Rangers, Flyers and Wild. Leddy was Minnesota’s first round, 16th overall, pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Cam Barker was the Chicago Blackhawks first round, third overall pick in the 2004 NHL draft. Yes, Barker was the THIRD overall pick in 2004. You may have heard of the two players drafted ahead of Barker that year, Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin.
In the six years since he was drafted Cam Barker had totaled just 217 games in the NHL. That’s an average of just 33 games a season. You would expect to see a lot more games on average from a defenseman taken with the number three overall pick. Prior to joining the Wild Barker had totaled just 17 goals, 63 assists, a -14 rating, and 161 penalty minutes. Once again, not what you’d expect from a number three overall pick.
While with the Minnesota Wild Cam Barker played in 71 of a possible 109 games over two seasons. In those games he scored 2 goals, added 10 assists, earned a -12 rating and accumulated just 44 minutes in penalties. Rather underwhelming numbers for what was touted to be a top two or at worst top four defenseman. In his NHL career Barker never seemed to really catch on with any of the four teams he played for in Chicago, St. Paul, Edmonton, and Vancouver.
After leaving the Wild as an unrestricted free agent Barker was signed by the Edmonton Oilers in July of 2010 . The Oilers were desperate for quality defensemen an thought Barker fit the bill. Ooops, that’s what the Wild thought a couple of years earlier. Cam missed the majority of the 2010-11 season after suffering a fairly serious ankle injury on 11/11/11. In the 25 games he played for the Oilers his stats were; 2 g, 0 nassists, 0 +/- rating, and 23 PIMS. It’s not surprising he was not re-signed by Edmonton.
In September of 2011 Cam Barker inked a one year deal with the Texas Stars of the AHL. While there he appeared in 23 games scored three goals, added five assists, earned a -5 rating and totaled 24 PIMS. Rather average numbers for an AHL player. On January 28th, 2013 Barker returned to the NHL after signing a free agent deal with the Vancouver Canucks. The contract was for lockout shortened 2012-13 campaign. He played in just 14 of 48 possible games for the Canucks that season. His stats for the Canucks read; zero goals, 2 assists, a -3 rating, and a paltry 4 penalty minutes.
Cam Barker’s stint with Vancouver was his last played in the NHL. In 2013 he jumped to the KHL. He now plays for the Astana Barys, located in Astana, Kazakhstan. In his first season with the Barys, Cam totaled 2 goals, 10 assists, a -5 rating and, 26 penalty minutes. These numbers are definitely an improvement over his NHL averages of 4 goals, 15 assists, -6 +/- rating, and 58 PIMS. Whether that trend continues in the 2014-15 season we’ll have to wait and see.
Cam Barker’s road to the NHL started as a 15 year old playing for the Medicine Hat Tigers in the WHL. Over the course of 5 years with the Tigers Cam would score 51 goals and 128 assists for 179 points. After a -16 rating in his first full season in Medicine hat he would rebound nicely and finish with a cumulative +25. Barker would spend 356 minutes in the penalty box over those five seasons in Medicine Hat.
After being drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks Cam Barker would spend 2 more seasons in the WHL before playing at the AHL of NHL levels full time. It appeared that Barker made the Chicago roster out of training camp in 2005 and he made his NHL debut on October 14, 2005 against the Colorado Avalanche. After that single NHL game though, Cam was returned to Medicine Hat for the rest of the 2005-06 season.
The next 3 seasons would see Cam Barker splitting his playing time between the Blackhawks and their AHL affiliate. In 2006-07 that was Norfolk Admirals. In 2007 the Rockford Ice Hogs became the AHL team in the Blackhawks organization. It would take until the 2009-10 season for Barker to become a full time player in Chicago. Then he was traded to the Minnesota Wild as a part of the infamous Leddy trade.
Cam Barker may be the victim of heightened expectations stemming from being chosen number three overall in his draft year. He just never was able to become the player coaches and management in the NHL wanted. Cam was a good NHL hockey player, not excellent, not great, but average at best. Maybe he will finally blossom into the player coaches want in the KHL. Time will tell.
That’s wraps up our look at Cam Barker. Coming up next on Gone Puck Wild’s Minnesota Wild A-Z we shine the spotlight on Peter Bartos.