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Barker aims to rebound Oil Country

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers
Cam Barker has been here before. No, not Edmonton, but the situation the team finds itself in. It’s no secret that the Oilers are a rebuilding squad, but with today’s acquisitions, the team is much closer to a post-season berth and a shot at the Stanley Cup.

Cam Barker scored 1 goal & 5 points in 52 game last season with the Minnesota Wild. (Photo by Getty Images)
It was a move that made sense from both sides. Within 30 minutes, Barker and the Oilers came to an agreement, putting pen to paper on a one-year, $2.25 million contract.

"We thought Edmonton would be an unbelievable fit for me," he said. "My agent called me today and said they'd talked, and I couldn't be happier. These things come together quickly and I'm really glad it did."

The 25-year-old defenceman is looking to rebound following a disappointing 2010-11 season in Minnesota. He scored only one goal and five points in 52 games last year with Edmonton's division rival.. His downward swing has been surprising considering he scored 40 points for Chicago only three years ago and is a former third overall pick (2004).

His troubling campaign meant that Minnesota was searching for options to unload the 6’3", 222-pound rearguard. He was put on conditional waivers and the remaining year of his three-year, $9.25 million contract was bought out only 24 hours prior.

General Manager Steve Tambellini was quick to work the phones Friday, assembling a deal that helped accommodate Barker’s vacant NHL allegiance, as well as the Oilers’ dire need to revamp an inexperienced defence core over the summer.

"He struggled a little bit last season in Minnesota, but he's 25-years-old and has the potential to be a top-four NHL defenceman," Tambellini explained. "He's on a one-year deal and I can't see much risk there."

It’s a reclamation project, but one worth taking on.

Barker hasn’t concentrated on risk at all. He’s looking to reestablish himself as one of the league’s most dynamic, up-and-coming young defencemen. In the process, he wants to help shore up the team’s struggling blueline en route to greater things.

"I'm looking to regain my form of a couple years ago, and I think this is the best place for me to do that," he said. "[Edmonton has] a tremendous amount of young talent, and I've been in that rebuilding mode with Chicago earlier in my career. This is a very similar situation with back-to-back No. 1 picks.

"I know how quickly things came together in Chicago as a young team. All the guys are a year older with a year more of experience, and that does wonders. Making the playoffs is the goal and it’s the direction the team’s heading in. It’s one of the reasons Edmonton was my choice."

So what can Oilers fans expect to see from Barker this season?

"I'm an offensive defenceman. That's an aspect of my game that I can really bring to the table. I'm a well-rounded player that likes to throw the body around a little bit and isn't afraid to mix it up. I'm really looking forward to being able to play with some of the team’s super talented young guys.

"Things are moving in the right direction and I'm really glad I'm a part of it."

Author: Ryan Dittrick |

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