February 24 2014 04:39PM
When Dean "Boomer" Molberg, of the Sportsnet 960 morning show, asked frequent guest and CBC insider Elliotte Friedman to name a team he thought were right in the thick of things regarding the Mike Cammalleri sweepstakes, Friedman stunned the host with his answer: the New Jersey Devils.
It's not that a trade to the Devils was inconceivable or anything, it's just that no one had really considered them to be contenders in the hunt for the talented winger prior to Friedman's suggestion. The idea, still, is an odd one for me to digest. I don't really see it being a good fit for either team on the surface, but nonetheless, let's break the situation down.
Why New Jersey?
Because they can't score.
The Devils boast the second worst Goals For number in the league (even worse than the Kings) and Cammalleri would be a big time boost to that lagging forward core. He'd infuse the game-breaking element the Devils lineup is lacking and could be the difference between the Devils making the playoffs or missing them. Only problem is, where do you fit him in?
Acquiring a guy like Cammalleri and giving up the assets you'd need to sacrifice in exchange just to play him out of position is, to be blunt, plain stupid and Lou Lamoriello is not a stupid guy. Meaning, if Cammi does end up going to Newark, he'd play on the left side (I understand he's played center in the past but he's clearly more comfortable and effective on the wing). The Devils top 3 left wing positions are currently occupied by the likes of Dainus Zubrus, Patrick Elias and Ryane Clowe. Not exactly a stellar group, I'll admit, but they are three very capable NHLers. The left side will need an upgrade sooner or later, but short of trading one of those three, there is no room for said upgrade at the present time. You also cannot simply move one of the three over to the right side because Jaromir Jagr, Damien Brunner and Michael Ryder occupy those spots and are all arguably better than the three opposite them on the ice. Now, backtracking slightly to the idea of trading one the three, it's not out of the question the Flames absorb one those contracts - all of them pretty bad if you ask me - to up their return. They still have two compliance buyouts and Murray Edwards and the other owners still have deep pockets.
Best Case Scenario
2015 1st Round Pick + B/C Prospect (Stefan Matteau, Jacob Josefson, Mattias Tedenby)
The Devils have no first rounder in 2014 due to the Ilya Kovalchuk contract fiasco, so 2015 is the earliest they can offer a Top 30 pick. If the Flames are somehow able to steal away this pick, I will invest all my trust into Burke as the head honcho. New Jersey may miss the playoffs this season, and next year could be worse with an even older team meaning the Flames would have an even higher chance of grabbing the first overall pick and having a shot at Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel should they corral the pick. The Devils, though, traded their 1st rounder last draft to Vancouver for Cory Schneider and along with the forfeited pick this season, trading the 2015 first would make it 3 straight years without a Top 30 selection for the Devils. That's even past Darryl Sutter territory. The conclusion being it's not likely they part with this pick.
The Devils have a ton of "C" prospects, too many to go into detail in fact. They have a couple players who once showed promise but have since fallen off in Jacob Josefson and Mattias Tedenby. At 22 and 24 years old, respectively, both players still have time to salvage their careers and turn themselves into respectable NHLers, but their days with the Devils appear to be numbered. Neither has panned out into what the organization expected and they may be worthwhile gambles for the Flames to take, especially if paired with that coveted 2015 1st. Stefan Matteau was a fan favourite selection at the time of the pick, with his father having played for the Devils and his intriguing ceiling, but has instead turned into a massive headache for the team. I won't get into the specifics but he had some attitude issues among other things and left his QMJHL team mid-season. If the Devils are willing to part with him, Matteau, age 20, fits the "Burke player" mold so he could be a potential target on the Flames radar. Corey Pronman went over theDevils top prospects last summer here, so you can take a look for yourself.
2014 2nd/3rd Round Pick + A/B Prospect (Adam Larsson, Damon Severson, Eric Gelinas, Reid Boucher)
I think if the 1st Rounder is ruled out, the Flames would be willing to take a lesser pick, in return for a more prominent prospect. The Devils have a couple high potential blueliners the Flames could take look at in a potential Cammalleri trade.
Adam Larsson was a 4th overall pick in 2011, but has been confusingly mishandled by the Devils since, plummeting the young Swede's stock considerably. At just 21 years of age and over 100 NHL games already under his belt though, Larsson has plenty of time to turn things around and reach his full potential. I'm not so sure the Devils would be willing to part with him just yet, however. It would probably take some serious prying on Burke's part. Damon Severson, 20, was a second rounder in 2012 and has been doing work in the WHL this season, almost at a point per game with 52 in 54. He's a top prospect and I'm sure the Devils would be reluctant to part with him as well. 22 year old Eric Gelinas has emerged in TJ Brodie-like fashion on the blueline for the Devils recently, putting up good numbers - both regular and fancy - in the NHL. The six-foot-four, 205 pound defender has six goals and 22 points in 44 games with the Devils this season and would be a solid addition to the Flames D core going forward. Reid Boucher scored 62 goals in 68 games during his last OHL season and is as pure a goal scorer has the Devils have in the system. The 20 year old has been very solid in the AHL this season and even got into 23 games with the big club this year. Besides the five-foot-eleven, 187 pound anti-Burke frame, he shapes up to be a prime target for the Flames should they explore trade scenarios with the Devils for Cammalleri.
Sum It Up
I still don't really see the Devils as a viable destination for Cammalleri to land, but if Elliotte Friedman said it's a possibility, then it's a possibility. The Devils have some really attractive prospects on the blueline but the problem is prying them out of Newark. I'd really rather not have an Iginla or Bouwmeester scenario play out again where no one knows who the prospects coming back are. Cundari who? Did you say Hanowski? It would be really refreshing to acquire a household name prospect for once, wouldn't it? The Devils have a lot of those "no name" types and if I see the headline "Cammalleri traded to New Jersey," I'm going to get real nervous.
Other Cammalleri Trade Scenarios
- New Jersey Devils
- LA Kings