Shotgun not being Jay Mariotti.
Despite fan opinion - and let's be honest, even Bobby Orr would be slightly hated if he was traded for the reigning Mr. Hockey who was playing at the U - there's no immediate need to get rid of Cam Barker. I'm not saying he's been overachieving and playing like the 3rd overall pick in the NHL Draft but he's not costing the team.
Ok, to put the Nick Leddy stuff aside- yes, he's from Eden Prairie, yes, He played at the U, and he's now in the NHL. I'm convinced he would have been back at the U had he not been traded, but the trade certainly looks worse with these variables. You may have a point about no immediate need to get rid of him, but there are younger guys who are showing they are NHL-capable immediately. Nate, this is why you buy him out. And it would cost us roughly peanuts if we do it now, instead of later.
I have to agree that a Nick Leddy in the Wild organization would be back for a sophomore year with the Gophers, which is disappointing as the team could have used him. But Dan, can you really count on the young guys performing up to and beyond expectations? Lets face it, between injuries and poor stretches none of the Wild's young defensemen (and I'm throwing Stoner, Falk, Spurgeon and Scandella into this) had a great full season. The team needs a guy who can both motivate and take over if the young guys falter. Remember how well just giving the job went with Clayton Stoner in October?
So what happens when the perpetually injured Barker gets hurt again? One of the kids will get his ice time. And since we look to have at least 3-4 guys who will be duking it out for his spot if and when he gets another boo-boo, why not just eliminate him from the roster, save roughly 2 million, and just let the kids duke it out? I see your point with Stoner, but he was fighting through injuries at the beginning and once he got regular playing time (with Marek Zidlicky's shoulder injury,) Stoner proved to be one of the more consistent, if not most consistent D we had during that great 2-3 month stretch.
See, the reality is that Barker doesn't have the mobility nor the assertiveness to be productive offensively (power play time aside, and even then he's a second pairing guy;) so he was at his most effective as a defensive, crease clearing 6th defenseman. And guess what, we have guys like Stoner and Justin Falk (who are cheaper and more mobile) who can do that role. Time to cut our losses and move on.
I think you could make an argument that he's regressed since his Draft Year.
Save $2 million? If the plan is to save $2 million when Minnesota has something like $11 million to sign 4 players for this season than Craig Leipold just wants to save some money. It's not like Wild are going to make a big splash in free agency this summer and need the money to sign Brad Richards. This is a weak free agency class and Minnesota would be better off not overpaying for another top-9 forward. Yes the team needs to garner more depth up front but it's coming through the draft and pipeline rather than as a short-term fix. Same goes with the defensemen as I don't see that $2 million saved on Barker being used on another one like Steve Montador or Shane O'Brien. Given the players who are ahead in the depth chart, St. Paul is not the most attractive destination.
And Dan, you talk about Stoner playing better once he was injury-free. Barker was playing his best hockey in Minnesota before he was hurt. It's a low-risk situation holding onto him next season as he's a RFA. If he plays well, either hold on or trade him. If he fails, trade or worst-case scenario don't tender Barker and be free of paying a buyout.
If he's bought out, I don't necessary think its about saving money- its about admitting this personnel decision didn't work, and the window of opportunity- in which he can be bought out for a third of his final year because he's under 30, is there. The reality is that what he was brought in for- to be a focal point of the blueline because he didn't get that chance in Chicago- hasn't worked. And while he's still able to get into the lineup (for the time being,) he's now a depth defenseman in a limited role; we have kids who can do that role and develop. This unfortunately, will be the only way Barker stays in the league.
You make valid arguments here- but alas, Cam Barker's time in Minnesota appears to be dwindling away. If there is speculation that he could be bought out, or a report that he's being actively shopped, chances are he has a limited shelf life here.