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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Former Calgary Sun Flames beat writer who has covered the team for a decade. Opinionated but reasonable, except when it comes to buffets. Follow him on Twitter at @MacfarlaneHKY
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#51 BurningSensation
February 01 2014, 01:00AM
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Quintana wrote:

Really? Is Backlund a plus 40 points player? Please..... I'm not trolling here but c'mon........It's true Edmonton is trying to trade him, but its because the Oilers have too many small players and needs to get bigger in their Top 6. Please Can you tell me how Backlund is an upgrade over Gagner? Gagner is a 4 year +40 points playing in a terrible team.

Gagner is a player without a position.

He''s simply too slow to be a #1 offensive center. He's lousy at face-offs, and can't reliably check opposing forwards, so he can't be a #2. He's too slow and too small to play the wing without getting killed in the corners or along the wall. This effectively takes him out of your top 6. He needs cherry zone starts and lots of power-play time to pad his stats. He's getting paid like that 8 point game might actually happen again. If Gagner were a basketball player he'd be Andrea Bargnani. Empty calorie offense married to mere chuckled suggestions of a defensive game.

Backlund however;

Draws the toughest opposition assignments. Is a plus at the dot. Has the speed to play in a top 6 role. Can play (and has this year) on every line. Has produced his points without significant power-play time, and wide variation in the quality and substance of his line mates (Kevin Westgarth, come on down!). Has a very reasonable contract. Is Andrei Kirilenko (a toolsy defensive player who could affect the game in a multitude of positive ways, but who because he was relatively low scoring never got the credit he deserved)

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#52 aloudoun
February 01 2014, 01:25AM
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I for one do not want to trade Backlund. And especially not to that garbage team north or Red Deer.

Giordano I can understand they part with, but I see it highly unlikely since he is our Captain (we are not the Rangers) and I doubt he waives his no move to go to Edmonton.

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#53 coachedpotatoe
February 01 2014, 07:13AM
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Heat beat Hamilton 6-0, Knight 2g and 1a,BJones 2g, Granlund 1g,1a, Joorish 1g, Rhino 2a, and Sven 1a. I forgot to see who got the shutout. BC beats Providence 2-0, Johnny G 1g, Arnold 1a.

For me to trade Gio it would tke a kings ransom so he is almost an untouchable. Same goes for TJB, there are not many 24 year dmen better. Monahan is key to the forwards and the way Backs is playing right now I would think he is pretty safe.

Personally I would like to see them get Russell(3x$3m) locked up and both TJB(6@$4.5m) and Backs(4@$4m) extended.

This article was about the future of Cammi and was a good piece. His value on the trade market seems to have gone down; injuries and less production than hoped for however the teams mentioned LA, Anahiem and NYR are all good locations who could use him. Hopefully he is in the lineup tonight and has a good game.

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#54 Baalzamon
February 01 2014, 10:07AM
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@coachedpotatoe

"So I finished my homework and it was Ortio with the shutout, interesting to Roy as the backup and not McD."

No surprise. Ortio is legit!

Wonder what happened to MacBackup? He's not good, but neither is Roy. Although, given Roy's ECHL performance, I suppose they thought he deserved a look.

"truth is if we took the best from both teams as they sit right now we would be a playoff team and a possible cup contender."

The Alberta Blazers. I like it.

Seriously, though, I don't understand how anyone who watches either player regularly can think Sam Gagner is better than Backlund. I mean, I get that Backlund doesn't score much, but when you consider just how often he's played with guys like Blake Comeau and Niklas Hagman while they were here...

Tom Renney always used to match Gagner against Backlund, and he got embarrassed every single time.

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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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