Health Makes All The Difference In Potential Cammalleri Deal

Steve Macfarlane
January 31 2014 10:41AM


(photo courtesy DealMango)

Sitting Michael Cammalleri out of Thursday night’s contest against the San Jose Sharks is an easy decision to defend.

He’d had one full practice following 18 days on the shelf with a concussion, and isn’t yet in the kind of game shape to help his team against one of the league’s top clubs.

But when you’re less than a year into a rebuild and that player is one of the most talked about on the trade market as a pending unrestricted free agent, you have to wonder how other teams are viewing the progress.

We all know acting GM Brian Burke is dangling Cammalleri, but the concussion has other teams leery of giving up too much for a potentially injured player. This puts the Flames in a precarious position. They want to showcase his talents on the ice for potential suitors in what is — thanks to the Olympic break and trade freeze that goes with it — a very small and rapidly closing window before the upcoming trade deadline. At the same time, they don’t want anything else to happen to the one player they have who can fetch a decent return on the trade market.

By announcing he’s ready to play, and then holding him out of the lineup for an extra couple of days of conditioning, the message is sent to NHL GMs that they have nothing to worry about if they’re ready to pull the trigger now.

But most will want to see it for themselves on the ice. Until Cammalleri plays, he could be considered a risk.

Or at least that’s the way opponents can play it during negotiations.

What is Cammalleri’s value? It’s a variable rate of return

“If his health is unknown at the trade deadline, then I would say he becomes a secondary player on the trade market and a team takes a chance only if they have other pieces in place or they have missed out entirely on the primary market,” says one former NHL executive who figures Cammalleri’s value has taken a hit. 

Another former GM figures teams could get creative in what they offer based on the number of games they get out of Cammalleri through the rest of the regular season and the playoffs.

For example, if the offer is a prospect and a pick, the round could be modified based on Cammalleri’s health. If he suits up (regardless of contribution) for all the remaining games and the playoffs, the pick could be a first-rounder. If he misses more than an ‘X’ number of games, it could be downgraded to a second.

Another area of negotiation teams could ask for more flexibility is salary cap consideration.

“A team may request that the Flames take back a portion of his salary,” says the executive.

His head is in the right place...

Cammalleri is now targeting Saturday night’s clash against the Minnesota Wild as his return date, and head coach Bob Hartley said Thursday he expects big things from his veteran winger.

“I think he’s going to be flying Saturday,” the coach told reporters after explaining the last-minute decision to sit Cammalleri was made to keep consistent with the culture they are trying to build in having the most-prepared guys going out there to try and win every game.

The commodity in question is also best served on a personal level to make sure that when he comes back, he’s in the best possible situation to contribute. His short and long-term future depends on how he plays for the balance of the season. Cammalleri says he’s healthy and that the scratch is not a setback on the concussion front. That bodes well for whichever team lands him.

...But where’s his heart?

Of course, we’re assuming two things here. One, that the Flames don’t want to keep Cammalleri around. And two, that Cammalleri has no intention of staying on as part of the rebuild even if they do want him.

Don’t completely discount the second idea. The Flames are again going to have a fairly high draft pick, and have some young prospects they like in the pipeline as well as an impressive 19-year-old rookie already playing. If Burke stays true to his business model of the past, he will likely try to swing a big deal or two for a young but proven player that will immediately help. You can be sure he’s not planning on making this a terribly long rebuilding process (whether or not you agree with that method is another story altogether.)

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Cammalleri fibbed. “Brian has been really good with me. We’ve had a lot of communication, as far as talking about some different things. I’m not able to speculate on what may or may not happen yet, but as far as that goes.”

As a 31-year-old UFA to be, he will have his choice of landing spots this summer for the second time in five years. He chose the Eastern Conference the last time, and for family reasons that were likely only enhanced by the recent death of his grandfather, no one would be surprised if he made a similar decision in order to be close to home again.

No one could fault him for that, either.

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Covered the Flames on the newspaper beat from lockout to lockout and continue to do it on my own terms. Follow me on Twitter at @MacfarlaneHKY
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#51 Bruins
January 31 2014, 04:44PM
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I never hear anything about Jankowski...how is he doing?

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#52 negrilcowboy
January 31 2014, 07:47PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

17 points in 26 games. A solid "meh".

when does the meh morph into a duh?

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#53 Nick24
January 31 2014, 09:34PM
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@negrilcowboy

So would we be looking for a second and Kreider? I could live with that. Or JT Miller and a first? Now that I think about it, I also like that John Moore guy.

I've also been thinking about John Merrill out of New Jersey, but I don't know how keen they'd be to give up Merrill.

Any Thoughts?

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#54 Quintana
January 31 2014, 10:57PM
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Steve wrote:

@Quintana

No comparison. Gagne is a defensive liability who after how many years in the league, still has to be sheltered against other teams weaker lines and now plays on the wing bc he cannot handle centre responsibilities or Win faceoffs!!

Backlund on the other hand plays against other teams Top lines as he's a defensive forward, wins draws against tougher centres and is now staying healthy which is allowing him to find a complete game...as well has more points the gagne this year! Which is the year that counts as your discussing current comparisons, not 3 yrs ago when you may have had a case to make.

U clearly only know to look at a stats sheet but your avoiding 1 stat which is pretty important, plus/minus! Gagne is -18 against 3rd line opposition. Take a read on ur oilersnation page and u will see that even your fellow fans are privy to this knowledge. It's no secret.

Did I say that Gagner is having a year off? He just had a broken jaw for loud sake!!! He was on pace for 68 points in 82 games the lockout year (last year) Don't care about plus minus (Ovechkin is -17) Backlund has been in the league for what? 5 years? Never had 30 points........Go figure

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#55 Steve
February 01 2014, 05:59PM
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@quintana

You don't care about plus minus bc Ovi is a minus player hahaha. That is the most shortsighted view I've heard. That kind of talk may fly on whatever site you post your garbage but not here where people actually follow hockey.

I'll lay it out for you in simple terms since you seem confused....GAGNE is NOT OVECHKIN!!! Never will be!!

No one cares what gagne was on pace for as it was never reached. He has no heart, is slow, can't win draws, defensive liability etc....

You also seemed to have completely over looked my point of gagne playing against weaker lines as opposed to backlund playing teams top lines!!

You also justify gagne poor production vs weak lines this year bc of his jaw but yet no mention of backlunds injuries the last how many years!!

You clearly don't know hockey and this is the last time I will waste time replying to your narrow minded views as you pick only 1specific stat from years past to base an entire argument.

Hey here's a thought for you, I had a 5 point game in my league this year. After we play 42 games, I should be on pace for 210 points!! Sound familiar lol

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