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Numbers Game: Habs Add Two Scoring Wingers

Scott Cullen
7/2/2009 12:51:22 AM
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While they didn't gain any size in the process, the Montreal Canadiens plucked a pair of scoring wingers to add to their attack.

Numbers Game looks at Montreal's signings of Mike Cammalleri and Brian Gionta.

The Canadiens Get: LW Mike Cammalleri and RW Brian Gionta.

Cammalleri, 27, is coming off a season in which he tallied a career-high 39 goals and 82 points for Calgary.  It's the second time in four seasons since the lockout that Cammalleri has surpassed 30 goals and hit the 80-point plateau, so it's fair to hold out hope that he can be be a point-per-game performer or close to it.

Where Cammalleri really does his damage is on the power play, scoring 60 power play goals over the last four seasons, a total that ranks him sixth in the entire NHL in that time period (behind Alexander Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Dany Heatley, Teemu Selanne and Thomas Vanek).

Signed for five years and $30-million, Cammalleri has to be a productive player (read: 30-plus goals and 70-plus points) for the Canadiens and that will depend on how well he meshes with new Canadiens centre Scott Gomez and there is some reason to think that the connection can work as Gomez likes to carry the puck into the zone and Cammalleri is turning into a potent triggerman.

Cammalleri's lack of size can be a concern, though he is the bigger of the two scoring forwards the Habs added on July 1.

30-year-old Brian Gionta is listed at 5-foot-7 but, like Cammalleri, he's competitive and willing to work in order to score.

While Gionta turned heads with a 48-goal season coming out of the lockout, he's scored between 20 and 25 goals in four of the last five seasons, so that may be a more realistic target for him.

Signed for five years and $25-million, Gionta's not exactly coming at a discout rate, so he'll have to share a lot of the goal-scoring responsibility with Cammalleri.

Working in Gionta's favour is his previous connection with Gomez, who he played with previously in New Jersey.  It's entirely possible that Cammalleri, Gionta and Gomez could make up Montreal's new number one line -- a line that will definitely be undersized, yet could use their speed to put pressure on opposing defences.

For the $11-million the Canadiens are spending on their free agent wingers, they should be getting marquee production. 

It remains to be seen if that's indeed what they will get.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@ctv.ca




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