Numbers Game: Devils add firepower with Cammalleri

Scott Cullen

7/1/2014 4:14:20 PM

The New Jersey Devils added a veteran scoring winger who has trouble staying healthy, but is coming off a terrific season.

Numbers Game looks at the Devils signing Mike Cammalleri.

The Devils Get: LW Mike Cammalleri.

Cammalleri, 32, has been a productive goal-scorer, topping 20 goals six times in his career, but he's also had a hard time staying healthy, missing at least 15 games in four of the past five seasons.

However, if a team understands that injuries are likely to be part of the package, they can also understand that a healthy Cammalleri has not only has he been able to score, but last season he was really effective as an all-around player, putting up strong relative possession numbers despite facing high-quality opposition and starting more of his shifts in the defensive zone.

Those relative possession stats were dramatically better than previous seasons, so that doesn't necessarily mean that's his standard level, but it's some evidence that Cammalleri is more than just a triggerman. He's joining a Devils team that already puts up strong possession numbers, but has been unable to finish enough. For whatever it might be worth, Cammalleri is also 7-for-20 (35.0%) in shootouts over the past five years, and while that's a little above average, it's miles ahead of what the Devils mustered as a team last year, when they were 4-for-51 (7.8%) in losing all 13 shootout decisions.

While Cammalleri plays frequently on the wing, he's also played centre -- took the second-most draws on the Flames in 2012-2013 -- and that could be useful for the Devils, who are going to have to mix and match some pieces up front, but have enough to put together three pretty solid lines.

Adding a goal-scorer certainly addresses the Devils' needs. They ranked 27th in the league with 2.40 goals per game last season, so adding a proven finisher is worthwhile. The trouble, as it often seems to be with the Devils, is that the term is steep for a 32-year-old.

Maybe five years and $25-million is the going rate for what Cammalleri provides, but it's hard to envision the Devils getting a positive return on investment when Cammalleri is 35 and 36-years-old. Sure, New Jersey has been getting great production from Jaromir Jagr and Patrik Elias, who are well beyond that age but, among 32 forwards who were at least 35-years-old last season, five managed to score more than 20 goals.

The Flames will miss Cammalleri. They added Mason Raymond as a free agent, and Raymond's speed is an asset, but he's not the same kind of offensive threat that Cammalleri is, so it's hard to expect that the Flames will thrive offensively without their third-leading scorer from last season.

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