March 04 2014 09:40AM
Veteran Flames reporter Steve Macfarlane is back, this time shedding light on the ongoing Mike Cammalleri/Brian Burke/trade/contract saga.
Talk of a contract extension for Michael Cammalleri is nothing more than a marketing play by Calgary Flames president of hockey operations and until-further-notice general manager Brian Burke.
Burke is trying to jack up the price by suggesting the diminutive winger has enough of an edge and other leadership qualities to go with his skill to be the kind of player he’d keep around despite his well-publicized preference for more meat in his lineup.
Contrary to popular belief, there are some legitimate reasons as to why the Flames would look at bringing Cammalleri back: Fulfilling the obligation of the salary cap floor; keeping enough veterans around to help guide the young up-and-comers for the next couple of years of the team’s rebuilding process; the hope he can rediscover his scoring touch in meaningful games should they somehow reach the playoffs — or even challenge for the playoffs down the stretch — before his new contract expires.
But for every reason in favour of the Flames trying to hang on to the 31-year-old winger, there are two or more that Cammalleri can list as to why he would be better off escaping the rebuild and heading to greener pastures.
Greener as in more money in the long term, and playoffs in the short term.
Last call for Cammalleri
With his contract expiring this summer, Cammalleri is at the point of his NHL life we’ll dub Last Call. As an unrestricted free agent on the downward crest of his career, his value will never again be higher on the open market. Instead of a two or three year deal that might be sitting on the table from the Flames, he’ll get at least four or five years from some other team desperate to fill a spot with a player who has scored nearly 40 goals in a season — even if that season was five years ago.
More importantly, he gets to pick which of the over-bidders he wants to join in July.
Many of those same teams that want his services in the summer will be the ones bidding for him now.
Teams looking for an edge on the competition. Established playoff teams that remember how impressive Cammalleri was with the Montreal Canadiens in the 2010 post-season when he scored 13 times and racked up 19 points in 19 games to lead the underdog eighth seed in the Eastern Conference past the top-ranked Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins before losing to the Philadelphia Flyers in the conference final.
His limited no-trade clause is irrelevant at this point. It’s unlikely the seven teams he listed that he can not be traded to likely don’t want him anyway. Wherever he goes, his chances of being in the playoffs for the first time since 2011 skyrocket. He’ll be playing with more skilled and experience players, which means his opportunity to increase his value for the offseason jumps up as well.
The value to Cammalleri to be free of the Flames is obvious. But his value on the trade market has taken a hit this season, for more than just the idea of him being an extremely short-term rental.
The concussion scared some teams away. It wasn’t Cammalleri’s first head injury, and for him to play with the kind of grit playoff teams expect, he opens himself up to more.
And with three goals since the calendar flipped from November to December, this isn’t Jarome Iginla getting traded.
The price isn’t right
The rumoured price of a top prospect and high draft pick will be next to impossible to rake in. That’s why Burke bothered to draw up an offer of any kind in the first place.
It’s not fooling anyone.
Teams will continue to kick tires. Once the top forwards in the rumour mill find homes or are confirmed to be sticking around — Matt Moulson, Tomas Vanek, Ryan Kesler, Ryan Callahan, Martin St. Louis — then Cammalleri’s price will be determined.
A prospect and a second-round pick might be the ceiling, despite Burke’s efforts to make his player sound more attractive