Season ticket holders last summer had an opportunity to ask questions of Lombardi regarding the Kings. Lombardi left a riddle hanging in the air that night. He explained that he would make one WTF trade. As fans, he asked us to be patient, that this trade would make sense later.
After Cammalleri’s arbitration last summer, or more accurately, when the team and player failed to reach an agreement, I figured he was a goner if the # went the player’s way. Once the Kings won and also got him tied up for two years, I guessed that this was the scenario Lombardi was thinking. Here we sit mid-way through a challenging Kings’ season, approaching the trade deadline and wondering whether this is still the guy Dean will not only move but is he the player DL referred to.
Cammalleri’s rib injury and O’Sullivan’s strong play on the #1 line beg the question. Is he missed? Speaking only for myself, I don’t. I cannot put my finger on why, just a gut feeling. The season start in London and in October, Cammalleri scored early and often and for an isolated moment that seems eons ago, he was the NHL’s #1 goal scorer.
The Edmonton home win on October 27, 2007 was a game televised on Hockey Night in Canada. Cammalleri was featured in an interview that night and press everywhere couldn’t write enough positive press about him – in October. That was then and this is now. Here is how his statistics played out prior to his rib injury:
Stats: London Games September 3 G 1 A
Octomber 11 GP 7 G 3 A
November 10 GP 2 G 5 A
December 13 GP 3 G 6 A
Only Cammalleri himself can provide context for his year so far. My best speculation is that once opponents singled him out, he disappeared some games. In order to be a $6 million dollar a year player, you have to be the guy everyone tries to stop and just cannot. Frolov often has double and even triple coverage and makes plays anyway. Ditto for Kopitar. If I am on another team, considering that most of his goals are scored with one knee to the ground, he goes down and I pounce. Period. He needs another move at a minimum.
To be fair, I did some research on his play since his college days to the present to provide a complete view of his value as a future King or the best trade bait outside of Blake. One of the first articles I read he described how he is an atypical Canadian – since he is willing to wear #13. I don’t remember exactly where or when I read this, but it was an interview when he explained how he ended up with a number near no Canadian would accept.
Canadians can be superstitious so if you look across the NHL, finding another Canadian with #13 would be the exception and not the rule. Before his collegiate days, Michael told a story how he ended up with that number – when it wasn’t his choice. He was on a team and someone brought out the box with jerseys for every player to take. His father forced him to let others go before him. (I forget why admittedly.) When every player had their jersey, the only one left had the #13. He took it upon himself to not be jinxed by a number. He would be better in spite of the digits on his back.
That tenacity helped him in his collegiate play with the Michigan Wolverines. In an article in the Michigan Daily, they called him “Mr. Everything”. There, Cammalleri discussed how his height is irrelevant to him. Play big and you are big. This is what others had to say about him in that article:
"Mike is a proven player," Michigan associate head coach Mel Pearson said. "If you go through our lineup and see who our proven scorers are you won't find many. He"s the offensive leader of our team. He can change a game by himself, so we need him in the lineup."
"He's one of our most talented players," Michigan coach Red Berenson said. "He brings that dimension. He can do things with the puck in the offensive zone that most players can't do. He can either provide offense or create offense."
The full article can be read here:
Funny thing is that Cammalleri’s total games played in college changed between the season before this article and the season after when he was looked upon to be ‘Mr. Everything’. The ability to stay healthy is just as key as offensive success. Check this out:
2000-2001 42 GP 29 G 32 A 61 points 24 PIM (1.45 points per game)
2001-2002 29 GP 23 G 21 A 44 points 28 PIM (1.52 points per game)
I didn’t research why he played fewer games. Statistically, he had .07 more points per game, was an alternate captain and All CCHA 2nd team. This season, his scoring and health may or may not be analogous. He went on to give up his senior year at the University of Michigan to sign with the Kings. I am guessing he did not anticipate being sent to Manchester after training camp that year after he gave up his last year of collegiate eligibility.
That being said, even back then, he was a tough guy to sign. Read more here:
“Cammalleri signed with the Kings in late July, and at the time, General Manager Dave King told Los Angeles reporters that Cammalleri threatened to play in the Ontario Hockey League if the Kings did not sign him. If Cammalleri had gone to the OHL, he would have become a free agent after this year.”
The full article can be read here:
At the AHL level, he excelled so kudos go to him for earning his way to the NHL rather than skulking or other negative choices other players have taken when faced with similar paths. His AHL accomplishments can be read about here:
In this fall’s media blitz, ESPN stepped up as well. One question asked was whether he would resign in 2009. Here is his answer:
“I really haven't thought that far ahead. There's a lot to happen between now and then, and I'm excited about our team. So, it won't affect the way I play the game, that's for sure.”
The full article can be read here where amongst other things he discussed his own Bentley, his spot on MTV Cribs and how Avery borrowed Pavel Demitra’s Bentley in Avery’s own television spot:
In the end, only Lombardi knows for sure the amount he would pay Cammalleri and only #13 knows what he would accept. When he is on and in a zone, he is everything. When he is not, he is easy to miss on the ice. Here is a sampling of his best:
[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kmsF93bBww"]YouTube - Mike Cammalleri Ultimate highlight video[/ame]
Considering the salary cap, how hard he may prove to sign, he reminds me of Hossa. He isn’t resigning with Atlanta before the end of this season anymore than I believe Cammalleri would next season with the Kings.
I speculate that there will be no hometown discount. He seems like the guy who would go to the highest bidder. There is nothing wrong with that. However, considering the talent of O’Sullivan, the number of players the Kings have to re-sign, if you are Lombardi, as teams get desperate between now and the February trade deadline, do you keep him or do you go all in and trade him when his value might not be higher since he is more than just a rental this season?