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 HabsAddict.com 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)