Cam Barker’s training camp invite from the Blackhawks was a surprising one, but he did make an impact. Literally.
On the second day of camp, in the first scrimmage of the day, Barker laid a gigantic hit on Teuvo Teravainen. Teuvo continued to play, scoring a goal in each scrimmage. Yesterday, though, Teuvo was kept out of scrimmages due to an upper body injury. The Blackhawks say that he could play today during the Training Camp Festival Scrimmage at the United Center, but for now, he has been listed as “day-to-day”.
The hit by Barker was hard, but it was clean. Coming into camp, Barker was a long shot to get a contract based on the invite, but after reminding the Hawks of his physical play, he could have “carved out a role” for himself.
The Blackhawks lost Sheldon Brookbank to free agency this year. Brookbank was a very physical enforcer-type player. There were many games in which the Hawks, who lack a lot of physicality, relied on him to provide that for them. During the second game of the Hawks first round playoff series agains the St. Louis Blues, Brent Seabrook got suspended for a huge hit on Blues center David Backes. The Blues had bullied the Hawks for the first two games and had a 2-0 series lead. Brookbank was chosen to replace Seabrook on defense, and the Hawks came back to win the series 4-2. Brookbank’s physical play and intimidation was a big part of the Blackhawks turnaround that series.
After choosing not to re-sign Brookbank, and deciding to trade another enforcer-type, Brandon Bollig, on draft day, some people thought that the Blackhawks were attempting to abandon that style of play completely. Barker and Brandon Mashinter are out to prove those people wrong by impressing coach Joel Quenneville in camp. Mashinter continually took runs at Barker after the Teuvo hit, and Quenneville loves that type of thing. Mashinter could take on Bollig’s role and settle on the 4th line left-wing, while Barker could have earned a contract with the Hawks and fill the role that Brookbank left as a 7th or 8th defenseman. The Hawks would start him for the physical matchups, and he would spend the rest of his time in the press box.
Even if Barker does not earn a contract with the Hawks, he has definitely made an impact, and could get picked up by another team who are impressed by his play. After spending last season in the KHL, he his anxious to make it back to an NHL roster.
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