Since he came up in the Schultz thread, might as well do him next.
Pros: Young, has a great shot that he can get on net, appears to have good hands and offensive abilities, good size and will stick up for teammates.
Cons: Lack of mobility. Even though he had an ankle injury, his skating ability has been said to be on the slow side. Also, his compete (thank you, Todd Richards) level appeared to be on low side, although my sample size of Barker extends about 10 games beyond what he appeared in for the Wild, and I never really focused on him.
Expectations: I want to see Barker thrive. I believe Fletcher and Richards will give him every chance to succeed early on. He will get 18-22 minutes and I think that he needs to produce on the powerplay, provide solid outlet passes, stickup for his teammates and be a solid player in his own end. I expect him to show a solid work ethic and not become a defensive liability. He should end up with 35-40 points, be first unit PP and not own a negative.
I'm really trying to think of one good aspect of his game. He has a shot, but he can't get into position to use it. He has size, but he's not aggressive. He's offensively important, but he doesn't help the offense. He's on the PP point, but he can't run the PP. Unless he turns 180 degrees, he's about as useless as a player can get. He does nothing well.
To justify his contract, he needs to put up 40-50 points again and be a solid contributor both defensively and offensively. We are paying him as a top 4 defenseman and he needs to show that.
Dang, given Schultz's contract; I just wonder what he should have been doing all along to justify it...
I'd like to see Barker get some more shots towards the net this year. The Wild have a few guys we are willing to go into the dirty areas and bang home rebounds. And outside of Zidlicky and Burns, there really isn't a lot on that blueline that can get their shots through traffic on a consistent basis. If Barker can do this, the offense can be a little more effective this year in my opinion.
alright, it's really hard to keep from yapping about Zid, but i'll save my criticism of the idea that he gets shots to the net for when he comes up in a player discussion thread.
Barker: I don't think it's in him to look worse than he did last year. That isn't to say he's a horrible hockey player: he just bottoms out at Meh level. This is without regard to salary or value. For instance, even at Meh I felt he was better than Hnidy.
So I'd say I expect him to look better next season, and I really don't care in what capacity. Maybe Richards and company will give him a shot and then realize he isn't going to develop his offensive game and turn him into a physical presence with good positional play. I know he can be better than he was last year at something--probably all of it.
He definitely has at least second pairing skill and at worst he'll be "decent". Again, this is without considering value.
Strengths: Ideal size, heavy shot from the point. Still has plenty of upside. NHL veteran despite age. Solid top 4 defenseman at the least.
Weaknesses: Plays like a NHLer in a beer league- like he can dominate a game but choses not to. Inconsisent with physical play despite size. He needs to work on his foot work; not a true puck mover. Looks disengaged from time to time, almost like he's pacing himself. Overpaid because of Qualifying Offer snafu.
I think Rick Wilson will help immensely, but immediately the most irritating quality about Barker is what seems to be a lack of engagement. I talked to a Hawks blogger about him, and he said that in the 09 playoffs he was their best player against Calgary, just dominated the ice in every facet- so why isn't he doing it now? He'll see ample PP time, which should reflect in his point totals, but I wonder what the best fit for a defensive parter is: a riverboat gambler type (Burns) or a stay at home type (Schultz), because I don't know whether Barker can move the puck effectively or is better staying at home. Maybe all he needed was top 4 minutes to grow?
Thus far Barker has been an underachiever; he was the 3rd overall pick and most thought he could become a top pairing defenseman. He had a break out year but then regressed horribly, so much in fact that given his salary, Chicago couldn't justify keeping him on the roster.
If you think that a solid defensive play while chipping in offensive (40-50 points might be stretching it but I think he can contribute again in the upper thirties, low 40s) is overachieving for a 3rd overall pick, that is making 3 million a year. Well then...we should start signing guys like Klein for 3 million a year.
As for Schultz; before last year he was a top 4 defenseman. While not exactly top notch pairing, he was very steady and reliable. He could chew up minutes and not be a liability. He was also one of the only solid defensive players Minnesota had on defense for a bit. We saw a remarkable loss when he went down.
Oh! And I can contend that he is slightly overpaid by a million at most.
I expect Barker to step up big time. He's going to be on the ice a lot more than he was in Chicago, especially on the power play. I'd like to see 10 goals and 40 points. He has the shot, it's a matter of the skating. I expect him to move a lot better than he did last year. He's had recurrent ankle injuries and hopefully this surgery will help.
I'm not expecting him to dominate, but I'm expecting a lot of improvement and contribution from him. If he doesn't, the trade looks really bad.