As I predicted yesterday, Mike Cammalleri was traded tonight [during the game!] back to the Calgary Flames. Cammalleri, a small LW sniper, has never quite lived up to his billing in Montreal. He was coming off a 39 goal season with those same Flames in 2009, also collecting 43 assists.
That same offseason, he signed a lucrative, long-term contract with Montreal, including a limited NTC, for five years worth $30 million. Despite his excellent play in the post-season, with 32 points in 32 GP, he has not come anywhere close to his 39 goal season, offering 26G 24A in 2009-2010, 19G 28A in 2010-2011 and 9G 13A in 38 games thus far this season. In addition, his comments to TSN yesterday, which indicated that he felt the Canadiens played with a losing attitude reportedly did not sit well with Canadiens management. There have been rumours about Cammalleri‘s reputation in the league as an egocentric and selfish player, recently highlighted by former NHLer Vincent Damphousse among others.
In short, the time to trade a depreciating asset in a season where you’re almost mathematically assured of missing the season is now. Cammy, despite his top billing, never lived up to his contract. He’s not the only one, but this season, his body language, his comments to the media and his pouting about ice team stood out on the ice and off the ice. He was probably the most attractive player on the Canadiens roster for other teams, mainly because he has a stellar playoff record. I believe Gauthier made a good call here, and Cammalleri was visibly unhappy with his role on this team.
Even more important than that is the reality that the Canadiens are a small team. Skilled, yes, but small. I think this trade was a sign that management has finally realized that the Canadiens need size and skill to compete. Gauthier also addressed this issue head-on in his post-trade comments to the media, stating that the team recognized that it needed to get bigger to compete.
Importantly, the Canadiens made a good decision in bringing in Rene Bourque. Having a difficult season as well, making the trade a problem-for-problem situation, Bourque brings in some needed size and grit at 6’2 and 211 pounds. He currently has scored 13 G 3A in 38GP. Not lofty totals by any stretch of the imagination, but neither are Cammalleri‘s, and the Flames are equally as pathetic as the Habs this season.
In four seasons with the Flames, Bourque has scored 21 goals once, and 27 goals twice and currently has 13G. He brings grit, size, skill and is currently serving a 5 game suspension for elbowing. The knock on Bourque largely is about his consistency and his work ethic. He was re-signed to a 6 year deal by the Flames in February 2010, for an average of $3.3 million per season, and despite his inconsistent play, was considered to be the player most likely to succeed Iginla when he relinquished the captaincy.
Interestingly, the Canadiens did not do a one for one swap. They also threw in the rights to KHL-committed goaltender Karri Ramo, who has stated multiple times that is unwilling to leave the KHL, as well as a 5th round pick in the 2012 entry draft. Feaster may have better luck with Ramo as he was GM of the Lightning when Ramo was in their organization.
In return, the Flames included Patrick Holland (RW/C) and a second round draft pick in 2013. Holland is an intriguing pick, as he was a former 7th rounder from the 2010 entry level draft who clocks in at 6’0 and 175 pounds. He currently plays for the Tri-City Americans in the WHL, where he has put up 57 points in 40 games thus far. He is projected to be an energy winger, but most scouting reports I looked at mentioned his poise with the puck whose strong on the puck and along the boards, something the Canadiens are undoubtedly lacking.
In the end, the bottom line was the Canadiens got rid of a player who was visibly unhappy, under-performing and expensive. He was under contract until 2013-2014, earning 6$ million this year, and 7$ million in the two final years. Bourque is in the first year of a six year extension, but at only 3.3$ million. He’s also bigger and only one year older. The Canadiens also pick up a 2nd rounder and a gritty prospect, while they give up a goaltender who wanted to stay in the KHL and a fifth rounder.
I think this is a good start. Cue the rebuild folks!