Considered the "greatest game show of all time" by TV Guide, the Price Is Right’s current format has been around since 1972. I’m not certain, but I’m pretty confident Steve Tambellini was a fan of the show, because, really, how could he not be, and while he likely didn’t have any "Beauties" in his office when he told Cam Barker to Come on Down last Friday, I like that he took a chance on the former 3rd overall pick.

Of the five new faces Tambellini added on Friday, Barker is the biggest wildcard, but he also has the potential to be the biggest impact player long-term out of the five. Eric Belanger is 33, a proven faceoff guy and penalty killer, but his game won’t improve in Edmonton. You know what you are getting and that’s fine. Ben Eager is a robust, energy guy who is good for seven or eight goals in a full season. Darcy Hordichuk and Andy Sutton are veteran guys, who know their role and will help protect the younger players, but when this team is a contender they won’t be around.

Barker turned 25 on April 4th and signed here after Minnesota bought him out. Being traded is one thing, but when a team buys you out, that’s a real blow to your ego, a huge wakeup call and it has become a source of motivation for Barker.

"You better believe that (prove people wrong) has been on my mind since the season ended. My motivation isn’t going anywhere. It doesn’t stop at the end of the summer; it’s going to go through all next year. That is what drives me right now and that’s why I’m so excited to get the season started," said Barker.

Barker sounded like a motivated man when we spoke, and it was clear he realizes how he is perceived in the hockey world right now.

"Not only do I want to prove to Edmonton that I want to be there longterm, I want to prove to everybody that I can be the type of player I was three years ago. I’m still young, I had an extremely tough year last year and I’m really looking forward to proving a lot of people wrong, and prove to the management in Edmonton that I can be that player again."


In 2008/2009 Barker had a breakout year scoring six goals and 40 points. Teammates Duncan Keith had 44, while Brian Campbell had 52, but Barker was exceptional on the PP tallying 29 points; which was 6th in the NHL amongst D-men.

Some wondered if he was becoming an elite scoring defenseman. It didn’t happen.

That summer the Hawks didn’t qualify Barker in time, and they ended up having to sign him to a three-year extension for $9.25 million to avoid losing him to unrestricted free agency. Barker hit it rich sooner than he or the Hawks expected and he didn’t handle it well.

The next year he struggled. Barker couldn’t live up to the pressure of the big contract and found himself playing only 13 minutes a night after playing over 18 the previous year. The Hawks had loads of depth on the backend with Campbell, Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjarlmarsson so Barker was traded to the Wild for Kim Johnsson and the Wild’s 2009 first round pick, Nick Leddy.

At the time Wild GM, Chuck Fletcher was pretty excited about Barker’s potential.

"He already scored 40 points in the League last year. "There are about 20 defensemen every year that are capable of scoring 40 points in the League. We’re very excited to acquire a player of his size, talent and youth."

Barker didn’t match those expectations. In 71 games over parts of two seasons, Barker only scored twice and added ten assists. He played 22 minutes a night at the end of the 2010 season, but last year he averaged just over sixteen. Barker was honest about his situation in Minnesota.

"I’ll be honest, confidence was an issue last year for me, I also had a couple injuries and it is amazing how quickly things can turn from bad to worse. I didn’t play up to my potential, and it seemed like whatever I tried didn’t work. I think I can share some of my experiences with the young guys here and let them know how easily things can go sideways. I learned a lot last year and I’m excited to get into camp, prove I can be that player I was and grow with all the young guys in Edmonton."



When Barker potted 29 PP points in 2009, the Hawks’ PP was 12th at 19.3%. He factored in on 41.4% of their 70 man advantages goals that year. Only Patrick Kane was in on more than Barker that year, so it is fair to say he was an integral part of their man advantage.

The Oilers scored a measly 44 goals on the PP last year, and they were 27th in the league with a 14.3% efficiency rating. Clearly they could use Barker skills, and Tambellini is hoping he can find his powerplay groove again. 

What position does Barker like to play on the powerplay?

"It doesn’t really matter," said Barker. "A good powerplay doesn’t really have set spots all the time. When you look at teams that have solid powerplays you see that guys are constantly moving around. A strong PP has many different looks and I feel comfortable playing either point. When I look at the talent Edmonton has I think it is only a matter of time before we develop a solid powerplay."


Looking at Barker’s stats it is fair to say he’s only had one good season, and if you look at his advanced statistics the report isn’t great either, but I think it is too early to just write Barker off. Lots of players struggle early in their careers, even after they have one solid season, and then suddenly they find some consistency.

Barker was the 3rd overall pick in 2004, and while he hasn’t lived up to that ranking thus far, I think the risk is worth the potential reward. I don’t see any negative in signing Barker.

If he finds his game, helps the PP and becomes a decent 2nd pairing D-man the Oilers will be thrilled, and he will be an RFA in the summer. If he doesn’t pan out, the Oilers can walk away at the end of year and not be saddled with an underachiever.

For those who think Barker will stunt the growth of Jeff Petry, I politely disagree. If Petry is good enough to play they will find him a spot. I think Barker allows the Oilers to protect Petry more than hinder him. They don’t have to rush him, and if he goes back to the AHL and plays 25-30 minutes a night then he’ll be even better next season. Petry was -12 in only 35 games last year, so it wasn’t like he was dominating.

He’s only played 49 AHL games thus far. Keith spent two full seasons in the AHL before going to Chicago. Ryan Whitney played 89 games before getting a shot in the show, and there are plenty more who honed their craft in the AHL before becoming regulars in the NHL.

Barker might not pan out, but it’s not like Tambellini decided to spin the wheel after getting an 80 with his first spin.

Most Cup winning teams have an impact player or two that turned out to be much better than they expected. Tim Thomas was a journeyman before finding his game in Boston. Patrick Sharp was acquired for nothing four years before scoring 22 points in 22 games to help the Hawks win the Cup. Max Talbot was an 8th round pick in 2002, and then he was third in goals during the Pens Cup run in 2008.

Barker was a good risk, and of all the Oiler UFA signings he has the highest potential upside.


Earlier today Brownlee had a great piece about the Oilers possibly adding another coach. It makes a lot of sense, but it likely won’t be Charlie Huddy. Huddy interviewed in Winnipeg and it sounds like he is a front runner to help develop their young blueliners. With Zach Bogosian, Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom all 25 and under, Huddy would seem like a great choice.

    • And one black hand? lol

      Also: Yes to raiding the caps or others for another defensemen. If we are going for that ever elusive “improvement” this year I think we need to go as far as we can in that territory without sacrificing development of organizational youth depth. If they (we) can pick up pieces in trades that can become part of the long term plan then the power to them.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Could be good news for Oilersnation, if this is the case, the Oilers could be ready to draw in a big fish like Shea Weber. I’d rather pass on those oppotunities to nab one of the Washington defenceman. Maybe now that the Predators know what they have with Weber, with the right mix of prospects/players/draft picks, maybe a deal with the Predators can be made sooner rather than later.

    • Kodiak

      Weber would be an awesome acquisition but I’d be just as happy with Suter. I think he’s extremely underrated and when he was out of the lineup Weber actually struggled quite a bit. Either would be nice.

  • IF I am looking to help the Capitals get under the cap floor, the only player on that defense that I want is Mike Green. Mike Green with Whitney on the first PP, would solidify our PP and help to actually put up some numbers. And before everyone goes on a tangent about how bad he is defensively, we have enough stay at home defenseman that he could play with. Put him with Smid, or Peckham to help cover his lapses.

    And what I would give for him, seeing as they cant take a whack load of salary back, I would offer Gagner or Cogliano, Hamilton or Marancin, and a 2nd rounder. This would help them clear between 3 – 4 million dollars in cap space depending on if they wanted Gagner or Cogs.

    • Tapdog

      Washington still has to sign Alzner!

      That is going to add to the overage so perhap a Green will have to be moved?
      Or perhaps the Caps know that Poti is not healthy enough to play, giving them another 2.875 to sign Alzner.
      Regardless someone is moving!

    • D-Man

      Of course, I’d love that trade – but there’s no way Washington even picks up the phone… They don’t need Gagner or Cogs – they’d just take draft picks.. I think if Tambo were to offer a 1st rounder, a 2nd and a Marincin or Petry – Washington might start to listen…

      You’re right – Washington needs cap space in the worst way; but you’re going to offer a heck of a lot more than that to be seriously included in a Green trade conversation…

      • You’re thinking about this as if it’s a Hockey Trade. It isnt. It’s a salary dump for a team that is over the Hard Cap with players left to sign. Green would cost more than Schultz no doubt, but the Caps are in no position of strength.

        • D-Man

          You’re right – Washington is currently over the cap by $2.0 million with two to three roster spots to fill… That’s not a huge problem – but would be concerning – if they were two days from opening their training camp…

          Let’s be realistic though… Would you consider dumping a top five offensive defensemen without taking something of value back in return?? I’m sure you could waive or buyout a contract instead of dealing a Norris finalist…

          Another thing to keep in mind… Knowing of their cap crunch – would they have signed Joel Ward to a $3.0 million deal if they didn’t have something else in mind to meet the cap? They have another two months to make another deal or two. Mike Green is not going to be traded…

          • That’s why you offer something for Green, get turned down, then offer something less for Wideman or Schultz (the guy you expected to get all along).

            I wouldnt move Green before I moved Wideman, if I were the Capitals, but you never know what these GMs are thinking. I wouldnt have moved both Carter and Richards from Philly either, so it’s anyone’s guess what Washington will do.

            That in mind, I wouldnt give up a 1st, a 2nd, and a good prospect for Green because the Oiler 1st could be in the lottery if things dont improve the way we hope they do.

          • D-Man

            I agree – I wouldn’t give up Green for that deal or any deal for that matter… If I were the Cap’s – the contract I’d consider moving is Semin’s $6.7 million cap hit… He was given that amount to equal Backstrom’s deal – and I believe he’s the least talented of the Ovechikin/Backstrom/Semin trio… I’m sure they can get a huge bang for their buck for him and free up the cap space they need…

            But I digress, McPhee wouldn’t have signed Ward without a plan in place… I wouldn’t be shocked if you saw a Tom Poti waived (saving $ 2.9 million in cap space) if push came to shove for the Washington Capitals…

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    I’m all for forcing the Caps hand with an RFA offer to Alzner, however I wouldn’t get too excited about getting a steal of a deal by “helping” them out.

    Isn’t the rumour that Poti is going to be on LTIR?

    If not, don’t think they’d move say Chimara or Knuble before they’d ship off Alzner or Green for pennies on the dollar.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    For the Oilers sake i hope Cam takes this opportunity to be the player Edmonton needs him to be here. What else is there to do here in Edmonton but work.

    I hope he’s married and can keeps his pants around his waist rather than his ankles while in town.

    Welcome to Edmonton Mr. Barker, lets see what you can do while you have a hockey stick in your hands.

  • book¡e

    I was just digging into Barker’s stats and I am not sure he can really help the team. He appears to be 88 years old and only about 170lbs. I also hear that he has some off ice issues regarding an obsession with animal genitals (I think Torres had similar issues). However, I do hear that he is good in the room, so maybe.

  • Barker was a great gamble. Guys don’t get picked 3rd overall if they don’t have the tools. To go as the top defenseman in a draft you have to have speed and mobility, and a good shot. Barker has all the tools, and hopefully in this environment he can find some confidence.
    Even if he only partially recovers to become a 2nd pairing D-man, we did well. Hard to sign those kinds of guys to one year and then get them RFA afterwards. A+ on this move.
    Now, Tambo just has to trade 2 spare forwards for a 4D and we are looking decent this year.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Mike Green will not smash opponent faces into the glass every shift and get us a hundred points a season like BlaqueJacques mentioned. We should save our pennies/assets and wait for a shot at Shea Weber. Let us not fall into this Green temptation.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      We aren’t getting Weber. If he is a UFA next season, and that’s a huge if, he will end up going to a market that is desirable and can pay him. If I had to bet, I’d say that NYR find a way to bury another bunch of contracts and sign him, because it seems like they sign the biggest free agents pretty much every year.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        There’s a good chance you may be correct on that but who knows really what he wants yet. A western Canadian kid, could also be as simple as him wanting to play in a hockey market. Edmonton as much as anybody, could give Weber what he wants on a long term deal. The Oilers will be competitive again inside of two yrs, combined with the fact he’ll still be a very rich man. I have to believe that Edmonton is an option for Weber.

        I’m sure Gary Lariviere will dust off that ole #6 so Shea could wear it, Whitney should be gone by then as well.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    With the CBA being up is it a smart move for Weber to test the market this year? Unless NSH is only offering 4-5mil then I guess it makes sense, but if they are offering 6-7mil you better just sign it now.

    • shau_co

      Maybe Weber wants to join a team with a better shot to win a cup rather than cashing in on a few extra dollars.

      Regardless he is going to make big money next year too.

      • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

        I’m wondering if that’s part of it. The talk was NSH had money and would be okay then all of a sudden they are trading a prospect to dump 3.5mil in salary. I have to wonder if there is no money. Maybe he sees that there is no end to this playing 1 or 2 rounds of playoff hockey.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Anton Lander looks every bit as ready as Hopkins does to me. If the Oilers keep Hopkins this season, why shouldn’t a more physically/mentally mature Lander stick as well, despite drafting position. If Lander can hold his own come training camp, the Oilers should let him make this jump as well.

    • It wont hurt him to start in OKC and play big minutes for a while and then come up. With the logjam at Centre someone is going to get the short end of the stick and the guy that doesnt have to clear waivers might just have to spend some time in the AHL and push his way onto the club when injuries occur.

    • justDOit

      The one thing that Lander has to adapt to is the long schedule – he’s never played close to 82 games in a season before. RNH has played close to that, coming out of the WHL and then getting in 2 rounds of playoffs.

      But I agree (and hope) that Lander deserves a shot at making the team, regardless of draft position or hype.

  • big joe grizzley

    hey gregor…the price is right as the greatest game show ever?…what about the short lived but legendary ”BEAT THE GEEKS”nuff said…bjg is out

  • Spydyr

    I was wondering what it would take to land Shea Weber. Gilbert, Cogs, prospect and 2nd rd pick?

    I don’t think Nashville will do it though. They just moved Franson.

    I noticed that a useful d-man that plays the right side is still available. Brent Sopel. Haven’t seen much of his body of work this past year, but I remember his run with Chicago where he played phenomenal in a top 4 role. having a reliable guy in your top 4 will help bring along Ladi Smid. We all want to see him get to the next level and giving him a reliable partner with experience will be helpful.

    Now, having said that, I think the Oil will stand pat. Barker is a gamble, but the gamble won’t bear fruit unless you invest time and money. By time, I mean giving Barker the minutes he needs to round his game into shape. If he makes a mistake, keep putting him out there.

  • I like the sounds of being patient with Petry. I think he’ll be a very good d-man one day, but not there just yet. Some AHL seasoning will go a long way. If Barker “steals a job” from him… well, that isn’t so bad, because chances are Petry shouldn’t have a job here just yet anyways. Not that he’s bad.. but he got it last year because of the team being so injured. No need to rush.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      That’s one good way to think of it. Another may be to cut bait while he’s still considered a blue chip prospect, include him in a multi player deal that helps us now. The Oilers added 6 new faces in the last two weeks, two of which bump him off the roster. Management looks as though they’ve made their decision on Jeff already by bringing these two reclamation projects in.

      Petry may have a successful career in the NHL but i think it’s less than 50/50 that it happens here in an Oiler jersey. He’s shown he couldn’t earn a spot on our 30th place club last season. He’s 24 already, how long do they wait before he’s labelled a career minor leaguer? Oklahoma already has Tuebert,Plante,Motin,Fedun,Mirancin,Potter and Montgomery on the back end, is there really any room?

      • Cheesenaka

        Montgomery wasn’t qualified so he’s currently an UFA.

        So that would drop the list to 7 dmen for the Barons, including Petry. I would think that Motin would be expendable before Petry.

  • Barker’s not alone as a guy who doesn’t give an original quote or one that seems steeped in sincerity and this is the one that struck me.

    “Not only do I want to prove to Edmonton that I want to be there longterm, I want to prove to everybody that I can be the type of player I was three years ago. I’m still young, I had an extremely tough year last year and I’m really looking forward to proving a lot of people wrong, and prove to the management in Edmonton that I can be that player again.”

    Barker has no idea about the city or the culture of playing for this team and yet he’s talking about wanting to be here longterm? That makes no sense except for the fact that it’s cookie cutter shape makes all the sense in the world.

  • positivebrontefan

    I’m hoping Barker is another case of a young defenseman not finding his grove with the first couple of teams that had him and then realizes it’s time to get it going and blows us all out of the water when he finds his game.