There was tension, panic and doubt as the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins game ended last night. The score was sort of superfluous; everybody knew coming in that the Bruins would win, and midway through the third period, the game took on a different meaning with Boston leading 2-0.
Somebody noticed that Michael Cammalleri hadn’t come out for the third period.
The game immediately took a backseat to the surrounding storyline. Cammalleri, who had come out a day ago against the “losing attitude” of his 12th place club, was suddenly on a taxicab back to the team hotel during the third period.
Montreal lost 2-1, as Boston scored goals on a couple of good bounces that blemished a terrific game from Carey Price, and after the game speculation kept going. “Where is Cammalleri?” “Who would want a deal that has two years remaining at $6M per?” “Why did Pierre Gauthier wait until the middle of the game to pull the trigger?”
(Tension died as the Canadian national broadcast, after an interview with their Habs beat reporter who was filing information on the potential trade, cut to a curling broadcast.)
Credit where credit is due, Louis Jean was the first to report that Cammalleri had been sent to Calgary for René Bourque, where he played his 2009 season leading the team with 39 goals and also netting 82 points. That team lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Chicago Blackhawks, and Cammalleri bolted for Montreal on July 1st, signing a 5-year/$30M deal.
But he had a rough time in Montreal. After a 26-goal season, Cammalleri had a strong 13-goal outing in the 2010 playoffs, but has dropped off since then. Not just goal scoring, but his underlying numbers have been weak as well for a player earning that calibre of contract. Last season, he was the third worst forward on his team in Corsi, a statistic which measures how often a team played in the offensive zone when a player was on the ice.
With the low Corsi rating (-2.67 per 60 minutes), Cammalleri was also thrust into easy situations, starting 52.2% of his shifts in the Habs offensive zone and facing pretty average competition (.638 Corsi Rel Qoc). This season is no better, despite facing the toughest competition on the team, Cammalleri has also been put into favourable zone start situations (54.5%) and is still a negative Corsi player (-2.79 per 60). On the surface, Cammy has fared no better, scoring just 9 goals in 37 games this season, the worst goal-per-game rate since his rookie season.
Coming in return, along with some picks and prospects moving both directions, is Bourque, a player running into similar misfortunes in Calgary. He may get the edge in this deal seeing as he plays in tougher situations than Cammalleri (.671 Corsi Rel QoC, 50.3% Ozone start rate) despite a very negative Corsi number (-7.68 per 60). Calgary is not a very strong possession team, and Bourque has also struggled offensively, despite his 13 goals, has only 3 assists.
In each direction, as mentioned, go picks and prospects. Calgary will get Karri Ramo, a Finnish goalie who has spent time in the KHL and doesn’t appear to be leaving, and Patrick Holland, a 19-year old (well, a ‘hockey 19′. He’s actually 20 now) prospect with the Tri-City Americans who is third on his team in scoring, although it’s worth mentioning that older players often lead their teams in that category.
This is simply a trade between two troubled franchises, one selling a disgruntled former star, and another selling a longer-termed contract that doesn’t expire until 2016, although worth only $3.33M. For the actual players involved, call it a wash. There’s a hopeful chance that either player sees some success in their new market, but the Habs may win this deal simply because Pierre Gauthier was able to barter a 2nd round pick next June to sweeten the deal.
So we can’t abruptly declare a winner and a loser just yet simply based on advanced statistics (sigh, limitations) but it’s certainly an interesting deal to follow, as it was initially reported in a web of secrecy right in the middle of a game between two of the fiercest Original Six rivals.