Friday night, following the Texas Stars 3-1 victory over a really good Abbotsford Heat team, Cam Barker was released from his player tryout contract or PTO as it’s known to us AHL blokes. This makes him a free agent. It’s a curious situation for Barker and the Stars for a couple of reasons. First, he ran through nearly an entire PTO (23 of 25 games) and could have been signed to another one. The consecutive 25 game contract would have been the most logical thing to do both for the team, and for the player. Frankly, I’m surprised that this didn’t happen. Barker, a regular on the power play unit for Texas, wasn’t having a terrible season. As a matter of fact, he was a shot monster. 3 goals, 5 assists, 66 shots, -5. Not dazzling stats, but then again, the Stars have struggled early this season.
Friend of this blog, One Hundred Degree Hockey, had this to say on the matter:
The former first round pick Barker had 23 games of work for the Stars, scoring three goals and five helpers and earning a minus-5 rating. He got a lot of work on the powerplay and shot the puck a lot for Texas. He is second in shots on the team at 66, just three behind leading goal scorer Matt Fraser.
With the NHL lockout facing an impending do-or-die moment, Barker may have felt that he should make himself ready to start up an NHL contract. However, it seems odd that he would not consider playing in the AHL to be an excellent conditioning stint and something that would show he is ready to play at the highest level in the world.
I tend the agree with the statement above. Playing in the AHL is better than not playing at all. It would also be curious for Barker to playfully assume that there will be an NHL season soon or that he’d actually get an NHL contract. I also tend to lean towards the fact that this was Cam’s decision rather than the Stars. Mainly because they need warm bodies on defense (upon release of Barker, Hubert Labrie was recalled from ECHL Idaho). Either way, where does the former Oiler go from here? Some have mentioned perhaps he heads to Europe. That’s totally possible. It’s also totally possible that we don’t see Cam Barker pop up for a while. Thus adding to the curious nature of it all.