The Vancouver Canucks will need to add a defenceman by tomorrow’s 12pm PDT National Hockey League trade deadline regardless if they can get the right-handed shot defenceman they have been looking all season.
Cam Barker was signed as a free agent by the Canucks following the conclusion of the lockout to be the team’s eighth defenceman. He sat out the first 20 games of the season as a healthy scratch before making his debut March 3 against the Calgary Flames.
Barker has done well statistically picking up two assists in seven games, but his skating ability hasn’t been all that impressive in those games. Fleeter skating opponents have been able to get by him with the standard inside-outside move at ease.
It doesn’t appear Canucks associate coach Rick Bowness and head coach Alain Vigneault have much confidence in his defenceman either.
He has averaged 13:29 this season and in the last three games, Barker has played 11:16, 12:45, and 10:29. Defenceman Keith Ballard playing as a forward has played more than Barker on defence. This is probably telling of how much confidence the coaching staff has in Barker.
The Canucks will need a player that will be able to contribute more than that in third-pairing role. In comparison, Andrew Alberts and Aaron Rome averaged 14:17 and 15:13 last season. Ideally you would like your third pairing to play around 15-17 minutes a night.
Kevin Bieksa‘s groin also appears it will be an ongoing issue moving forward and he will play the rest of the season injured. He has been missing practices and game day skates recently to receive treatment on the groin.
There has been instances where his groin has been an issue during a game. Bieksa has looked sluggish on the ice and unable to keep up with the play at times. Take the Logan Couture chance Monday in the second period where Couture just picked up speed and skated by Bieksa for a chance in close.
O’Bryne and Strachan have been averaging 18:58 and 18:53 respectively with the Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers. Both players are unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. O’Byrne carries a $1.8 million cap hit and Strachan’s is $600,000.
Barker is on waivers.
— Farhan Lalji (@FarhanLaljiTSN) April 2, 2013