Ryan Whitney & Cam Barker - Dragging The Blue Line

"...but we feel that the addition of Barker, at his age and his experience…that should take some of the weight away from those people that can play those minutes like Whitney and Gilbert and Barker should be able to jump right in there."

--Steve Tambellini, in August, on Cam Barker

$6.25 million - that's the combined cap hit of Ryan Whitney and Cam Barker. Though both are on the bench now, when they've been in the lineup, they've been completely ineffective. Outside of Wade Redden and Jeff Finger, it's not easy to find worse value in the NHL.

All of Barker and Whitney's possession numbers look downright awful, but it's the scoring chance differential per 15 is the most damning. Both men have had their time on ice limited by injury, so they may bounce back in a Roy Hobbs-like way, but to bounce from 40% to something useful isn't likely. Their scoring chance numbers show how much of a drag the two have been on the team.

Player TSC TSCA CH% CF/15 CA/15 DIFF/15
Ryan Whitney 56 74 0.431 3.303 4.365 -1.062
Cam Barker 33 48 0.407 2.644 3.846 -1.202
w/ Whitney Barker 88 119 0.425 2.990 4.043 -1.053
w/o Whitney Barker 414 483 0.462 3.493 4.075 -0.582

Each of the categories below is an "or", comparison.


With Whitney or Barker
w/o Whitney or Barker
Whitney or Barker w/o
# CF CA %
CF CA %
CF CA %
4 19 28 0.404
118 95 0.554
69 91 0.431
10 30 32 0.484
117 138 0.459
58 87 0.400
14 30 35 0.462
116 122 0.487
58 84 0.408
20 23 31 0.426
61 88 0.409
65 88 0.425
28 23 42 0.354
85 90 0.486
65 77 0.458
37 10 10 0.500
18 36 0.333
78 109 0.417
83 19 23 0.452
89 94 0.486
69 96 0.418
89 10 24 0.294
81 91 0.471
78 95 0.451
91 17 16 0.515
33 36 0.478
71 103 0.408
93 33 35 0.485
114 106 0.518
55 84 0.396
94 34 33 0.507
121 141 0.462
54 86 0.386












25 16 15 0.516
51 61 0.455
72 104 0.409
44 22 37 0.373
78 75 0.510
66 82 0.446
58 26 48 0.351
98 105 0.483
62 71 0.466
77 17 8 0.680
139 144 0.491
71 111 0.390

At the very least, Whitney's struggles can be explained away by injury. He's never been and never will be the vaunted top-pairing defenseman the local media tosses around, but he should be one of the very best second-pairing defensemen in the league. How and why he got back on the ice with such a terrible injury hasn't been explored by the local media, but shutting him down was the best thing the team could have done.

Barker, on the other hand, doesn't need an explanation. To label Barker a disappointment is faulty. He's been sub-replacement level for his entire career, and that hasn't changed in Edmonton. Regardless of draft pedigree, he's just not an NHL player. So it's disconcerting to find out from a source close to the situation that the Oilers believe Barker is their 3rd-best defenseman. They believe in him so much, they are interested in re-signing Barker to a multi-year deal.

Chasing bad minutes with big money is fine when the team isn't competitive, but eventually this management group is going to have to prove that they're capable of extracting value from contracts. These two deals aren't going to help their average.

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