Saturday, 14 January 2012

Fried Calamari

Michael Cammalleri is no longer a Hab.

Sit there. Let it digest.

Let's break it down.

On July 1st, The Montreal Canadiens signed free-agent forward Michael Cammalleri to a 5 year contract worth $30 million US. Cammalleri was fresh off a 39 goal season with the Calgary Flames and at 26 years old looked to be an excellent signing.

170 games, 54 goals and 119 points later where did it all go wrong? Cammalleri scored 26 goals in only 65 games that first season and many fans and media had anointed him the next Captain of the Canadiens. For an encore, he scored 13 goals in 19 games during the playoffs of that season.

On September 29th 2010, Brian Gionta was named the new Captain of the Montreal Canadiens with Hal Gill and Andrei Markov being named alternates. Cammalleri's production tailed off, as did his excitement with the media. Did the novelty of playing in Montreal wear off? Or as many speculated was Cammalleri hurt that he didn't get a letter on his jersey?

NBC's Pierre McGuire suggested that not only was Cammalleri hurt he didn't get a letter on his jersey, but that Canadiens brass had made the right decision in not giving one. A mopey attitude is not the attitude for a leader. "The Canadiens have an excellent leadership group".

Over his first two plus seasons in Montreal, fans became accustomed to seeing Cammalleri drop to one knee whole scoring goals. This year with only 9 goals in 38 games it was rarely seen.  Many point to the injury suffered by an accidental cut to the knee that he would drop to. (Vs Winnipeg Oct.9th).

One Flames executive was quoted as saying that a trade had been in the works for three months, while Mr.Gauthier claims it was a month. Either way this had been brewing for awhile. When Cammalleri sounded off to Francois Gagnon and Arpon Basu following the loss to St.Louis speculation started to run rampant. Mitch Melnick openly speculated with Pierre McGuire on his TSN 990 radio show that perhaps Cammalleri had learned he might be traded and his comments were a way of expediting it, or a way of just venting frustrations since he felt he'd be traded for sure.

The end result is Michael Cammalleri, a clearly frustrated player - be it for lack of a letter on his jersey, not liking the style of the coach - is back in Calgary.

Along with Cammalleri, the Canadiens shipped a 5th round pick in this year's draft and the rights to Karri Ramo to Calgary as well.

Karri Ramo is a 26 year old Finnish Goalie who has played 48 games in the NHL - all with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He has not played in the NHL since 2009. He has been playing in the KHL ever since where he has been a league all-star in two consecutive seasons receiving more fan votes than any other league player. He's likely to stay in the KHL, and doesn't figure in the Canadiens plans anyways.

The Canadiens received a 2nd round pick in next year's draft. Trevor Thimmins has done pretty well with second round picks, having selected Guillaume Latendresse, Ben Maxwell, Mathieu Carle, P.K.Subban, and Danny Kristo almost all of whom are currently in the NHL.

The Canadiens also received Patrick Holland. TSN's Bob Mckenzie describes him as "by no means a can't-miss prospect. No (Amateur Scouts) suggested he's a potential top six NHL forward but many said he does have a legitimate chance to play in the NHL as a solid third- or fourth-liner."

The "jewel" of the deal for Montreal is Rene Bourque. In Bourque, The Canadiens get bigger (6'2, 211lbs VS 5'9, 190lbs) cheaper ($3.33 mill VS 6 mill cap hit) for similar goals per game production. Over the last 150 games, Cammalleri has scored only 5 more goals than Bourque. It all sounds very good, but there are always intangibles. Kelly Hrudey describes the intangibles that Bourque brings as "Zero on the give-a-care meter".

Cammalleri is now a Flame, Bourque is now a Hab. Both teams struggle to get into the playoffs, both GM's try to save their jobs. Who will win out? Will both? One can only hope.

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