Blackhawks News

Cam Barker Invite Puts Pressure on Young Defensemen

By Andrew Gregory

Cam Barker has struggled throughout his career in the NHL. So bad, even, that he played last season in Russia. Now, though, he will get another chance to show teams around the league what he can do. The Chicago Blackhawks, the team that drafted Barker with the 3rd overall pick in 2004, have invited him to participate in their training camp that starts today.

Barker spent the first 4 and a half years of his career in a Hawks uniform before being traded to the Minnesota Wild in the trade that brought Nick Leddy to Chicago. Since being traded, Barker has played with the Wild, the Edmonton Oilers, and the Vancouver Canucks all in a span of three and a half years. Not to mention a stint in the Dallas Stars system with the Texas Stars. His best season came with the Hawks in 2008-09 in which he recorded 40 points in 68 games. Last season in 26 games for Barys Astana of the KHL, he had 12 points.

The number one thing that this invite does, is give Barker another shot at an NHL career. But does it also put pressure on the Hawks young defensemen? If the Blackhawks decide to trade away a guy on the blue-line, they have a lot of young guys who are ready to step in. David Rundblad, Adam Clendening, Kyle Cumiskey, and Stephen Johns might all my see time with Chicago this season. But if Barker plays well in training camp, it could force all of those guys to step up and perform better to make sure that they have that lineup spot.

Cam would have to put on an almost flawless performance in camp in order to earn a contract with the Hawks. Other teams may take a longer look if they are weak on the blue-line. Either way, it is nice to see a player get another chance. Especially one with such high expectations coming into the league.

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