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Numbers Game: Canadiens ship out Cammalleri

Scott Cullen
1/12/2012 11:21:24 PM
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On the heels of his critical comments, Mike Cammalleri was traded back to Calgary by the Montreal Canadiens.

Numbers Game looks at the swap that brings Rene Bourque to Montreal.

The Flames Get: LW Mike Cammalleri, G Karri Ramo and a fifth-round pick.

Cammalleri, 29, is in the midst of a disappointing season during which he's scored nine goals and 22 points in 38 games; his 0.58 points per game ranks as his lowest since 2003-2004.

Finishing has been Cammalleri's problem this year because he is averaging 3.0 shots per game -- not as good as his best years but up slightly from last year's 2.88 per game -- but his 8.1% shooting percentage is the worst of his career.

Montreal's ineffective power play this season has affected Cammalleri (or is it the other way around?), as he's managed one goal and six points with the man advantage, a far cry from his usual power play production -- he's averaged 27 power play points per season over the last six years.

Though his regular season production hasn't met expectations in Montreal, Cammalleri was a force in the postseason the last two years, scoring 16 goals and 29 points in 26 playoff games.

While much has been made of Cammalleri's recent comments about the state of the team, his ice time has been down recently. He's averaging 18:04 per game this season, but played fewer than 16 minutes in four of six games prior to Thursday night's early departure in Boston.

In Calgary, Cammalleri returns the scene of his most productive season. In 2008-2009, he notched a career-high 39 goals and 82 points, which landed him his sizeable free agent contract from Montreal.

With the Flames getting good production from the No. 1 line of Curtis Glencross, Olli Jokinen and Jarome Iginla, Cammalleri could either replace Glencross or he could take a spot on the second line, helping the Flames diversify their attack.

Cammalleri has two more seasons, at a cap hit of $6-million per (and actual cost of $7-million per, according to www.capgeek.com), remaining on his deal.

Ramo is a 25-year-old who is in his third season with Avangard Omsk in the KHL. The former Tampa Bay Lightning keeper has a 1.97 goals against average and .927 save percentage in 35 games this season; good enough that he could return to the NHL, but he may not be inclined to come to the NHL if he's not going to be a starter and the Flames currently have that position filled.

The Canadiens Get: LW Rene Bourque, RW Patrick Holland and a second-round pick.

30-year-old power forward Rene Bourque has enjoyed some success in Calgary, with back-to-back 27-goal seasons prior to 2011-2012, but he's been terribly inconsistent this year and, while he has 13 goals in 38 games, Bourque has managed one even-strength assist all year. One!

So, Bourque may not be the one to create offensive chances for Montreal, but he's 6-foot-2, 213 pounds and he can use his size to finish around the net. For a Montreal team that has, in recent seasons, bemoaned a lack of size up front, Bourque certainly holds that advantage on Cammalleri.

Bourque is currently serving a five-game suspension for elbowing Washington C Nicklas Backstrom in the head and has one more game to sit out before he's going to be ready to play.

Even though Bourque's cap hit is $3.333M (again, www.capgeek.com), the Habs aren't exactly escaping from under Cammalleri's deal because Bourque is signed for four more seasons; a lengthy commitment, though not quite as onerous against the cap.

Holland is a 20-year-old right winger who has 57 points and a plus-23 rating in 40 games with Tri-City of the Western Hockey League. A seventh-round pick in 2010, Holland figures to be fighting an uphill battle to make the NHL, but his steadily improving production in junior does offer some hope that he might develop into a reliable checker in a few years.

The second-round pick that the Canadiens receive, generally, should have a 25-30% chance of becoming an NHL regular, which is approximately twice the likelihood that the fifth-rounder going to Calgary will become an NHLer. The pick is a little sweetener for Montreal, for giving up the most skilled player in the deal.

It's been a disappointing season in Montreal and shipping out Cammalleri doesn't necessarily brighten the forecast. It's possible that there might be better vibes in the Montreal dressing room, but the bottom line is that the Canadiens need production and, while Bourque might provide slightly better bang for the buck, he doesn't have the upside of Cammalleri, a two-time 80-point scorer.

The season hasn't necessarily gone according to plan in Calgary, either, but the Flames are only four points out of a playoff spot, so adding a scorer to the lineup at least gives them a shot to make a bid for the postseason over the next six weeks, leading up the trade deadline. If the Flames can't gain ground, they can go ahead and sell, but if Cammalleri is rejuvenated by a return to Calgary, then perhaps the playoffs aren't completely out of the question.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.




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