Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Trade Winds are Blowing: Michael Cammalleri is first to go

Rene Bourque - Calgary Flames v Washington Capitals
As the Boston Bruins were putting the finishing touches on yet another loss for the lowly 2011-12 Montreal Canadiens, GM Pierre Gauthier was finalizing the trade of left winger Michael Cammalleri.

When all was said and done, Gauthier shipped Cammalleri, Karri Ramo and a fifth round pick to the Calgary Flames in exchange for Rene Bourque, prospect Patrick Holland and a second round pick in the 2013 entry draft.

Upon announcement of this deal, the Twitterverse exploded with action to the point where I almost started to believe that the Mayans had the date wrong.

The end of the world would not be on 12-21-12 as originally thought but rather 1-12-12.

Instantly the “those for” and “those against” the trade firmly planted their feet in the sand.

Healthy debate. A lot of banter. At the end of the day, the deal was done and number 13 has been returned to the team where he had the most success.

I will not lie to you; I was never a fan of the guy.

I can respect his talent level and ability to put the puck in the net. Yet, from the get go, I was dead-set against the signing of the diminutive forward because of his checkered past.

His issues in L.A, his locker room struggles with Todd Bertuzzi and Mike Keenan, and his “selfish” persona in these cities were, in my opinion, all red flags.

Easy things to say now with hindsight being 20/20 and with most hockey analysts finally mentioning the stories or issues that they have heard over the years.

My philosophy, however, is that I can accept a player who has had issues, because hockey is about chemistry and finding the right situation for the right player. What I cannot accept is a player who plays selfishly and puts himself ahead of the team; something Cammalleri has a history of doing.

Regardless of my personal views on the individual, I like this trade, a lot.

Why? Everything points to improvement.

1) Yes, Cammalleri is the best player in this deal. But, as many have noted, the Canadiens have acquired a player who has had better production in each of the past three seasons. Bourque is coming off back-to-back 27 goal seasons while Cammalleri has struggled to reach 20 goal plateau.

2) The Habs needed to get bigger. They shipped away a soft, 5’9 forward for a grittier, 6’2 player. Bourque has a tendency to take nights off, but even when he is not producing he has the abiltiy to help in other aspects of the game.

3) If you heard the comments of the players after the game, it appears as though very few players were sad to see Cammalleri go.

4) We know there is some economic uncertainty ahead with the need to re-sign both P.K. Subban and Carey Price. Bourque makes roughly half the money of Cammalleri, meaning the team just saved almost three million dollars in cap space.

5) Gauthier also acquired a decent prospect in Patrick Holland, who is currently producing over a point per game with Tri-City in the WHL. Holland will not suddenly morph into a superstar, but he does own some offensive talent and a decent frame.

6) Holland also provides the Habs with another prospect who will be making his debut in Hamilton next season, along the with the likes of Brendan Gallagher, Nathan Beaulieu, Jarred Tinordi, Danny Kristo and Michael Bournival.

7) The Canadiens were able to acquire a second round pick in the 2013 draft from a team who looks destined to struggle. I realize it all relies on who is ultimately chosen but, this second round pick could ultimately become another Subban or Lucic. The other option is that perhaps the pick could be used as trade bait to acquire a player who can help in the immediate future.

So, if you are keeping track, let’s put this in perspective.

The Canadiens traded a struggling, controversial 5’9, 170 lbs. player making six million dollars per season, a goalie who will likely never wear a Habs uniform, and a 5th round pick to Calgary.

In exchange, the Habs obtained a cheaper, grittier 6’2, 210 lbs. forward, one of the top-ten highest scoring players in the WHL, and what looks like a high second round pick.

Yet, despite this, people are still upset at the trade?

Rene Bourque has been a 27-goal scorer in each of his past two seasons and is on pace for that total this season as well. He is a big, gritty player who, in my opinion, is better suited for the third line.

I, personally, did not see this trade as a move to acquire a first line winger, but rather one to obtain a player who can fill the void when Andrei Kostitsyn departs, and provide cap flexibility to add another top-six forward.

Although I have been down on Gauthier of late, I think this was a step in the right direction.

What about you?

Bryan is a Marketer by day, writer for by night and full time fan of the game. Follow me on twitter @BryanWilley78 but don't bother looking for me on Facebook, I'm just too old for that now!

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images North America)


it was more the unethical asshole-ish way Cunneyworth traded him that has people pissed off. Your logic and reasoning for being happy about the trade is undeniably right, and maybe Cammy's ego wasn't fitting into his Habs jersey anymore but it wasn't right.

Cammy rant over

GO HABS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Good stuff Bryan and I agree. I have no problem with this trade. Sure there is the possibility that Gauthier could have gotten more for Cammalleri. Especially if he had shopped him to all 30 teams, but the fact remains that it was pretty evident he was no longer interested in being in Montreal.

His play over the last two to three months had been atrocious and he looked completely disinterested.

Bourque, as you mentioned, scored 21, 27 and 27 goals in his last three seasons. For a guy who is billed as being inconsistent, that sounds pretty consistent to me.

But it is his size that is important. That, the 2nd round pick and the cap space.

This was a good deal for the Habs and not one that will help them make the playoffs, but rather one that will make them better in the long run.


Exactly, one must take the long view on this deal. The prospect, pick and money give the team both roster and financial depth.

And now, with Cole, Pacs, Bourque, AK, Blunden and Moen, the team actually has big wingers up and down the lineup.

PG can be lambasted for many things, but he certainly has been working on sizing up the team.

Wtahcing the game last night was encouraging.

1st line had Pacioretty and Cole
2nd line had Bourque and AK46
3rd line had Eller, Moen
4th line had Darche, Blunden.

Thats 8 of the 11 forwards dressed all 6'2 or bigger (with the exception of the Belerussian Tank who is 6'0).

The team is undeniably bigger and grittier and is finally playing a North-South game and not sitting back.

Once White comes back in about a weeks time we are going to be even grittier and tougher to play against.

But this is about Cammalleri. I knew tha he had issues in past situations and he is now on his 4th team in 4 years but I don;t think anyone knew how bad it really was.

Cammalleri was seriously disliked by his teammates.

Flames fan here (but I follow/cheer for Montreal too).

Bourque's goal production has never been a problem. His problem is that he generates too many turnovers and takes too many bad penalties. For the Flames, he just hasn't been worth the points he puts up. There are few things worse than being down a point with two minutes left on the clock and having a player take a lazy hooking penalty in the offensive zone because he couldn't be bothered to move his legs. This season Bourque has really upped the ante with a lot of borderline dangerous hits too. He's not a head-hunter like Phaneuf who goes out there intent on destroying other players. He just has bad judgement, and that's why he's been suspended twice so far this season. I hope Montreal's coaches are trying to find ways to get him to smarten up because the suspensions are only going to get longer.

You guys have also heard that Bourque is streaky, but it's not just that he fails to put up points consistently. His whole game is off and on. He can be a superstar-caliber player one game (e.g. Last season's Heritage classic against Montreal) and then for the next month he'll look outclassed on the third line. If he doesn't magically change, Montreal is going to have to yoyo him up and down through the lines as he gets hot and cold, because a cold Bourque will just get murdered if you leave him on the top line.

Okay, enough bad. Bourque is a seriously talented player. When he's hot he's a superstar caliber player. If somebody could find a way to make him give a crap on a consistent basis the payoff would be *huge*. We never managed that here in Calgary, so I hope Montreal has better luck. A consistently hot Bourque signed to the contract he's on would be a freakin' steal for half a bloody decade.


I do have one question for Montreal fans:

What's the deal with Karri Ramo? Holland is, at best, a fourth or maybe (if a few pigs manage to float a little) a third liner. When I saw the trade I assumed the prospect coming back was of similar quality, not a young goalie killing it in the second toughest league on the planet and being called "the best goalie in Europe". I know Pryce is a few years younger than Kipper and goalies are in overabundance in the NHL, but Ramo looks like a potential kipper replacement. That's gotta be worth more than Holland and the difference between a second and fifth. Did anyone in Montreal even know who this guy was before he was traded?

@ Anon

My take is that Bourque is a streaky scorer but it's the extra little things that he can do which actually make this club better.

Cammalleri was extremely disliked in this locker room by the leadership group. He played selfish, didn't give much effort on the ice and did not have the support of the team. In other words he was an issue.

Furthermore Cammallaeri was just one more small element with a team already small in top 6 players with Giona, plekenaec, Desharnais. A team cannot survive or strive when 4 of your top 6 players are all 5'11 or smaller.

So with Bourque they get another 20 goal scorer who can play more physical then most of the forwards on the team and who does not hurt them defensively.

IMO Bourque will be a top 6 forward this season but going forward with likely slip into a 3rd line position but the importance here is that he has had the same production as Cammalleri for 3 years an makes 1/2 the salary.

As for Ramo who knows. He was a throw in for a deal last year when we traded Cedric Desjardins I believe but Ramo had no intentions of coming to the NHL. Especially when he played behind a very young Carey Price.

Whether in fact he changes his mind and comes to Calgary is a whole other story. Nobody was sure tat he was ever coming back however.

As for Holland I guess we'll have to see. Some players are late bloomers, some are made for the AHL. have personally never seen him play but I imagine he'll be something like a Brock Trotter. In other words a good AHL player who'll see spot duty in the NHL as a bottom 6 forward. If he does better then all the power to him.

Ramo's agent has reported that he's very interested in playing in the NHL again, but that he didn't feel Montreal was a team that would happen with. Maybe he's a prima donna who insists on being a starter? It would be bad if he was unwilling to come in as a back-up, because that's how he's going to have to start. Still, it's not a bad thing to have a goalie prospect playing in the KHL. It's a better league for seasoning than the AHL.

As for Bourque, I have to reiterate what I said before. His *whole* game goes up and down. That includes the hits and willingness to get into crowds. He is not physical at all when he's cold, although the penalties still seem to come.


There you have it. Cammy had to go because he was severely disliked, Ramo didn't want to play here so the fact Gauthier was able to save cap space, get a 2nd round pick and a question mark prospect was a good move in my books

Re: Cammalleri

I would assume that, if he had big problems in the Flames' dressing room in the past, he wouldn't have been welcome back at nearly double his former salary. Did it seem like he came to Montreal a normal guy and then gradually turned into a buttwad under the continual media exposure of Montreal?

Calgary isn't exactly Florida, but it's definitely not as bad as Montreal when it comes to the media. You guys plastered a five story picture of his face on your freakin' Arena! That's gotta mess with a guy's head just a little. Here, he's always going to be #2 to Iginla, which might help him stay at least a little bit humble.

In regards to Calgary apparently he did. He had a major blow up with Todd Bertuzzi and also with Mike Keenan so it seems.

Some players just don;t mesh however. Funny how Erik Cole was a bust in Edmonton but he's been the most productive UFA signing this season.

Just need to find the right situation I guess.

I think that we have too give Bourque a chance to show what he can do with the Canadiens, before we stomp all over this trade. First of all Mike C. was not producing in Montreal and it has added some cap room which is a good thing. Last nights game against New York Rangers, Bourque played a solid 20mins and I see many good things to come. Bourque is not afraid to go into the corners or up against the wall to retrieve the puck something we haven't seen a lot of this year with the Canadiens except maybe Cole and Eller or Kostitsyn when he feels like it. Don't get me wrong I liked Cammy but it was time for a change!!!

Comparing the 2 is not even right IMO. Bourque is a second or third line player whereas Cammalleri was supposed to be an elite top line scorer.

If Bourque nets you 25 or Cammalleri nets you 25 then Bourque is certainly a better deal given his salary and little intangibles that he can provide.

The real question to me is where the saved money goes going forward.

I wouldn't hold my breath on holland. A 20 year old playing amongst boys should be able to put up solid numbers.

it seems cammy was not happy so let him go - a sleeping smurf - cunneyworth is only coached for less than a month & the team has shown growth & guts so quit whinning as our manager did not build this team he is trying to fix it & doing a fair job so far

Halak is the number 1 in St. Louis, but because he struggled earlier this season, Elliott managed to have plenty of playing time. As for Price, I wouldn't give him more than $5-6MM a year as $7MM is way too much for such a young goalie with no success in the playoffs.

@ Bill,

I agree. I really like what Cunneyworth has done for this team. Sure the results are not yet there but he took a lazy team and is trying to turn them into an in your face, up tempo system.

he will not be back for next season but props have to be given to what he has done thus far.

@Anonymous flames fan i didn't know who ramo was until i heard about cammalleri traded

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