February 20 2014 02:29PM
He started the season with 9 goals and 13 points in 14 games after missing games due to a hand injury. The fan base collectively hollered "trade him now!" They didn't trade him. Since then, he's scored 4 times in 28 games, and now, it's likely that the Calgary Flames want to trade him. The circumstances surrounding Mike Cammalleri and his potential departure are odd, to say the least. It seems like every week, a "prominent hockey analyst" reports something different about the 31-year-old winger. New teams, new asking prices and new wrinkles in the situation enter the fray weekly. Reports a few weeks ago even suggested the Flames may no longer trade him all-together, and that an extension to remain a Flame was in the works. That, however, makes little sense for the team nor the player, so for this exercise we'll assume he's on his way out the door.
If he is indeed to be dealt by the March 5th trade deadline, where could he go and what could the return look like? We'll be breaking down the most likely destinations for Cammalleri and would the potential return could look like, starting with the Los Angeles Kings today.
It's probably the most obvious destination, because it's no secret that the Kings are in the market for scoring - sitting 29th in goals for, overall. Bringing back the game breaking winger, who began his NHL career with a crown on his jersey, into the fold could very well be an option explored by Dean Lombardi and the Kings brain trust in the coming weeks.
One might argue that the Kings are better off chasing other scorers available on the market like another former King, in Matt Moulson or Islanders snipe show Thomas Vanek in their search for scoring, but Cammalleri could be a more attractive catch for a number of reasons. The primary reason being the potential to re-sign the player and the player's playoff dominance. Cammalleri has made it no secret he enjoys California (who doesn't, really) and he'll no doubt take a salary cut next season, which could amalgamate into an extension. Assuming Cammalleri cuts down to around $4 or $4.5M per season and the fact that the relatively heavy Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene contracts are coming off the books, the Kings could comfortably fit Cammalleri into their line-up for years to come. To the playoff point, the Kings are clearly "going for it" once again and Cammi is a point per game scorer in the playoffs. He also has more points in less playoff games than both Moulson and Vanek combined. The optics of a Cammalleri deal are looking pretty good for the Kings, not even mentioning the return for the Richmond Hill, Ontario native could be considerably less than that of the other two aforementioned forwards.
Best Case Scenario
The Iginla: 2014 1st Round Pick + B/C Prospect (Nicolas Deslauriers, Derek Forbort, Nikolai Prokhorkin)
At this point, I think a 1st rounder for Cammalleri would be a real nice grab. The prospects listed above are either extremely high risk (Prokhorkin) or not really blue-chippers (Deslauriers) so the 1st would be to balance out the scales. I really doubt they net a 1st, but it's a possibility.
The three prospects are also the types I think the Flames may target when making this deal: good potential players who carry a risk component making them expendable in their current organization.
Nic Deslauriers is an offensive defenseman with average defence, but is coming on 23 years of age and is yet to establish himself as a full time NHLer. He does sit second on the AHL's Manchester Monarchs in scoring, which is an impressive feat for a blueliner. The 6-foot-4, 200 plus pound Derek Forbort is a former 1st rounder but hasn't developed quite the way the Kings would like, showing little offensive ability. He's scored just once in 51 AHL games this year and had just six goals in over 100 NCAA games. He's not quite Kanzig territory, but probably not too far off. Forbort is an effective shutdown guy however and could fit nicely in Calgary's bottom two pairings in the near future. Nik Prokhorkin is a highly skilled, dynamic forward who was a caught in an odd contract dispute that derailed his draft +1 season. He could be an impact player but the Kings might not want to deal with the politics and potential headache that part of the package deal.
Corey Pronman ranked the Kings prospects at Hockey Prospectus this summer, you can have a look for yourself and identify potential targets.
2014 3rd Round Pick + A/B Prospect (Zykov, Pearson, Vey)
The Kings lack a second round pick in both the 2014 and 2015 drafts so after the Top 30 selection, the 3rd rounder is the next best thing. It's a pretty lackluster piece in the grand scheme of things, so it would need to be accompanied with something significant to really justify making the deal. I would suggest Tyler Toffoli as a return but I'd imagine that's the non-starter for the Kings considering the rookie winger's performance this season.
Other than Toffoli, the Kings boast a decent compliment of top forward prospects, most prominently their 2013 2nd round selection, Valentin Zykov. Zykov is a high octane, offensive minded winger who's had a good - not great - season in the QMJHL this year. He currently sits with 18 goals and 49 points in 40 games. Poirier has been better, in comparison, but the offensive tools on the six-foot, 207 pound Russian native are undeniable and unmistakable. He won't be a piece the Kings will be eager to part with, but would be a solid catch if pried out of Hollywood. Tanner Pearson was a great story of an underdog rising from the shadows in his draft year and has since been picked in the 1st round (2012, 30th), established himself as a top prospect and scored his first NHL goal. Pearson had a strong rookie AHL campaign and continued on the solid play into his sophomore season, currently sitting on 16 goals for 29 points in 38 games. He's probably not NHL ready at this point but isn't far from it. One of Pearson's frequent linemates in the AHL is another top Kings prospect by the name of Linden Vey, whom the Flames may have interest in. Vey is a point per game in the AHL this season - 28 in 28, with 10 of them being goals - and is a decently sized skilled forward. Standing six-foot, 200, Vey was a dynamite WHL scorer before translating his skills to the AHL. This is Vey's third AHL season and he's steadily improved in each of the last three years, to the point where he may be ready for a taste of the National Hockey League.
Sum It Up
The Los Angeles Kings appear to be the most sensible destination for Cammalleri when considering all the factors involved. There are, however, other options for the Kings on the open market should they choose to pursue a scorer. The aforementioned Moulson or Vanek scenario's could be determined as better options by the Kings, thereby voiding the possibility for Cammalleri. Should Los Angeles decide on Cammi being the best fit for their organization, they posses a decent arsenal of assets to make it worth the Flames' while.