In a stunning and abrupt fashion, the Montreal Canadiens and Calgary Flames swung a deal Thursday night, exchanging underachieving forwards Michael Cammalleri and Rene Bourque, among other future assets. It is a deal that should work for both sides.
Following Wednesday's practice, Michael Cammalleri was rather candid with his views on the current state of the Montreal Canadiens. Not even three years into a five-year pact, the diminutive winger was clearly frustrated with the team's current 12th place seed as they sat seven points out of a playoff berth.
His comments, which were loosely translated from English to French then back to English, may have paved his way out of Quebec. “I can’t accept that we will display a losing attitude as we’re doing this year,” Cammalleri told local reporters. “We prepare for our games like losers. We play like losers. So it’s no wonder why we lose.” Something tells us those words stung Habs GM Pierre Gauthier as they became the latest controversial news item in an already forgettable season.
The turn of events led to Gauthier sending his talented winger, as well as KHL netminder Kari Ramo and a 2012 5th round pick, to the Calgary Flames for suspended winger Rene Bourque, prospect Peter Holland and a second round pick in 2013. Surprisingly, he was able to quickly find appropriate market value for a disgruntled player with an expensive contract.
By comparison, Rene Bourque carries a cap hit slightly more than half of Cammalleri's $6 million anchor. Putting that into perspective, the future pick and solid prospect become icing on the cake. Furthermore, Bourque outscored Cammalleri through the halfway point and figures to fill the void left by Cammy's absence quite nicely.
While not a traditional scorer, Bourque fits a similar mold as fan favorite Erik Cole. He will add speed to Randy Cunneyworth's lineup while contributing a bit more physically. His aggressive style of play coupled with the steep upgrade in size should be a good fit in the currently evolving coaching system.
This deal should work out well for Gauthier's Habs. Likewise, Flames GM Jay Feaster feels he too made out quite well in the transaction; we could have a 'hockey trade' here folks.
"Mike Cammalleri is a dynamic player who enjoyed great success playing in Calgary,” Feaster
explained in his press release. “We believe Cammalleri will help our offensive production, solidify a second scoring line, bolster our power play, and bring another strong veteran voice to our room. We are confident that a return to Calgary will be good for Mike and good for our continued pursuit of a playoff berth."
Despite scoring only nine goals on the season, the Flames hope their newest acquisition can add some offensive creativity to their second line. In fact, they are hoping his presence will give them the final piece to their perennial blueprint of sneaking into the playoffs. In his previous season in Alberta, Cammalleri racked up 39 goals and 82 points in 81 games before the Flames burned out in the first round. The best-case scenario, and likely what Feaster is hoping for, is a middle-of-the-pack offense gaining a point-per-game player. A player that could help divert top pairings away from Jarome Iginla.
Like Gauthier, Feaster is trying to make the best out of what he's been given. And while the Flames can't trade for superstars every season, they have been able to rekindle their past success in snatching falling stars on their descent. Cammalleri could work out perfectly, just as Olli Jokinen and Alex Tanguay have in their current second tour of duty.
Last season, the trade deadline came early with much less fanfare as the end of February neared. Assuming Cammalleri was on the trading block for only a day or two, are teams eager to make moves now in order to get a leg up on their competition? Moreover, will we see more 'hockey trades' as general managers get more creative with their allotted cap space?
Gauthier and Feaster both proved to the hockey world they were not afraid to pull the trigger. Considering they made this big of a move in January, the bigger question might be: are they done?
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