Cam Barker has been spending his season with the Texas Stars of the AHL, despite not having a full contract. He was on a 25-game professional tryout, which is the type of standard deal guys put their names on when trying to earn a “real” contract at best, or while waiting for a teammate to get hurt at worst. Either way – it’s a foot in the door.
Welp, Barker’s 25-games are up, and they gave him the axe.
The guy led the team in shots during his time with the Stars, firing 66 pucks on net. He also scored three times and added five assists. Yet, was a healthy scratch on occasion so the Stars could give their up-and-comers – names like Jamie Oleksiak, Jordie Benn and Brenden Dillon – the minutes they felt were necessary.
It’s really crazy how far (and how fast) Barker has fallen. In no way am I defending his play, which seriously bottomed out over the past few years, but man, he’s a 26-year old defenseman who’s approaching 100 career NHL points. And now, it seems, like he just can’t do it anymore. Often, prospects get every conceivable opportunity when they look good in junior, and teams try to force a guy to be an NHL player, but sometimes things just don’t pan out. Maybe that happened here.
I can’t predict what happens next for Barker, but I’m sure it involves another AHL team. It could be an ECHL one while the lockout persists, but once it’s over, he’s no worse than a decent AHL defender. Then again, there’s little reason to think the lockout will end, so Barker could find himself falling from NHL defender to making his debut in his first “four-letter league.” Ex-NHLers tend to want to avoid those.
(S/t to Pro Hockey Talk)