Michael Cammalleri’s contribution both during the regular season but more importantly in the playoffs has been a material component of Montreal’s success. He only played 65 games this season due to injury, something of which he has a history. In those 65 games, he put up respectable numbers with 26 goals and 24 assists for 50 points and good for a plus-minus of +7. All but 4 of those goals were scored 5 on 5. Still, those may not be 6 million dollar per season numbers but the following are. In the playoffs, Cammalleri has delivered 12 goals, 7 against the Penguins. This equaled a Montreal record in a single playoff series shared by Maurice Richard (1944 and 1958), Jean Beliveau (1956), Bernard Geoffrion (1957), Guy Lafleur (1975) and Marcel Bonin (1959). Not bad company.

The Kings traded Michael Cammalleri (“Cammy”) at the 2008 draft to Calgary for a 1st round draft pick. The Flames sent that 17th overall to Los Angeles who immediately traded the 17th and 28th picks to the Anaheim Ducks to pick at number 12. Buffalo then approached the Kings to trade up to number 12 in exchange for the Sabres’ 13th. Lombardi ensured that they did not have their eye on Colten Teubert. They did not. The Sabres wanted no part of Colton but rather chose Tyler Myers, the 6’7″ defenseman who just had an excellent rookie season with 11 goals and 48 points to complement his +13 rating.

Meanwhile, Teubert (a self proclaimed “punishing defenseman”) has not sniffed the NHL. He was sent back down after each of the training camps in 2008 and 2009. He has played for both the Ontario Reign and the Regina Pats. He won gold at the 2008 IIHF U18 World Championships and 2009 WJC. He won silver at the 2010 WJC. Colten is listed as 6’4″ and 180 pounds which tells reasonable minds that he could use at least another 15-30 pounds to fill out his frame. An interesting side bar to his off ice accolade is Regina mayor Pat Fiacco designating January 8, 2010 as “Jordan Eberle and Colten Teubert Day” in Regina. Lakingsnews.com is currently investigating the perks accompanying this designation including those of the female non-sheep variety, if any.

To date, I have listened to Kings fans voice their objections to the trade for different reasons. These include trading a bona fide 30 goal sniper for poor return value. You will see from one of Lombardi’s quotes below that even he acknowledged that he thought he would get more for him. Others have advocated that Cammy should have been signed and he would have signed for 3.5 to 5M per season. I have rarely noticed anyone proclaim that he was worth 6M per season, which was apparently (with some degree of speculation) his demand at arbitration.

Let’s revisit some quotes from Lombardi and Cammalleri on the subject (each of the links follow the quote).

“DON FULTON: Do you want to be back?

CAMMALLERI: I definitely want to be a King. It will be interesting to see what we do.” Link here.

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LOMBARDI: “It doesn’t surprise me that he’s scoring up there. We had to make a conscious decision, based on the type of culture we wanted here, the type of player I wanted to use to set the identity of this franchise and, thirdly, signability. We answered those questions. Am I surprised that he’s on a 40-goal pace, up there in his contract year with Iginla? We all know the kid can score goals…I wasn’t trading a 20-goal scorer. I was a little surprised I didn’t get a little more action on him, but I think the reason was that he’s a one-year asset, to any team we were talking to. They didn’t want to inherit the same problem I was having. Now Calgary’s got that issue right now. It’s like a double-edged sword. I don’t think it’s any secret where he really wants to go, so what do I want that problem for?” Link here.

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CAMMALLERI AFTER THE TRADE TO THE FLAMES: “I’m really excited. I’ve always kind of wanted to come back and play in Canada so this is a great opportunity. It’s great to be able to compete for the Cup. I love the team that we have.” Link here.

**

CAMMALLERI AFTER SIGNING WITH MONTREAL: “I had a great time playing in L.A., don’t get me wrong, but when I got to Calgary and got to play in front of those fans, in that atmosphere, it was great and I knew that’s what I wanted to do during my next contract. To be able to play in a place like Calgary and Canada where people bleed hockey, the passion is so high every game, that was something I never had and it was just such a great experience.” Link here.

Now, I am going to write something that isn’t a quote. It comes from a friend whose word I trust and who spoke with Lombardi on this subject before Cammy’s trade. This friend would tell you that Lombardi did not like Cammy. Mike didn’t reach Dean’s “character” bar and Lombardi did not believe that he was worth anywhere near the money he was asking. Lombardi knew that the $6M demand was posturing, and an initial demand based on Cammy’s role as his team’s NHLPA representative, trying to bring up (league wide) player salaries by tying his demand to Vanek’s offer sheet. As such, Lombardi had no intention to negotiate. Dean knew before the 2008 draft that he was going to trade Cammy.

So, where does that leave us in evaluating the trade? If the subject remains solely Cammy’s value, both foresight and hindsight tell us the same thing. Cammy had one 30 goal season with the Kings, his breakout season where he also netted 46 assists and 80 points. His previous season was 26-29-55. His subsequent season ended with 19-28-47 due mostly to injury and limiting him to 63 games. Cammy was entering arguably his prime if he could stay healthy. He is currently 28 years old. What did he bring at that time? The same thing he brings today – the ability to put pucks in the net. He is not fast. He is not slow. He is not a grinder. His game isn’t in the corners. His game is picking the corners. Cammy is cut from a similar cloth as Luc Robitaille (I can hear the cries of Sacrilege!) – a player who may not have all the physical attributes you would expect in a gifted NHL goal scorer but who possesses two talents: a deadly accurate shot and the ability to get open that are in the elite class. That puts his value between $3.5M to $6.5M when compared to other players who put up similar numbers. He is being paid on the high end of that. A Cammalleri advocate would tell you such a figure is well deserved given his playoff performance.

Did the Kings receive good value for Camalleri? In foresight, no and even Lombardi admitted that fact. He did not get what he had hoped. That is not to say that Lombardi should have kept Cammy. That is proposing that he should have at least tried. If he had offered $4M and Cammy said no, his number is $6M, then so be it – nobody would second guess the transaction. In hindsight, the trade has been worse. Teubert has contributed nothing to the Kings and his stock may be lower today than it was at the time of the trade. Once again using hindsight, if Lombardi had picked Tyler Myers we would be having a different discussion. He didn’t and therefore we are.

In fairness, the final evaluation of this trade cannot be completed until we see what Colten Teubert brings. If he ends up a solid NHL defenseman with the Kings in the next 2 to 3 seasons and for a long time thereafter, then the conclusion likely changes. Regardless of what any of us think of the trade, we certainly all hope for the latter.