"...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.
|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|
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.