Ranking the Best Fits for FA Center Mike Cammalleri
There's a lot of chatter about the 2014 NHL free-agent class being thin on talent. While there might not be any monstrous names hitting the market on July 1, there are still a handful of players who could be difference-makers for their new clubs.
Paul Stastny is arguably the best forward available, but there are a few guys who might have something to say about that. Thomas Vanek will draw a lot of interest, and don't be surprised to see Matt Moulson land a decent payday.
A name that hasn't popped in many discussions is Mike Cammalleri, but he could possibly be the most effective player who finds a new home this summer. The reason for that is simple. While Stastny will be looked on to be part of a core somewhere, Cammalleri will be asked to do one thing: score goals.
There's a number of good two-way players, strong checkers and excellent passers. The rarest ability in hockey is the ability to score goals. Cammalleri is never going to win a Selke, but he knows how to find the back of the net.
No real update... We’re continuing to talk to see if there’s a deal there and if there is, we’ll announce it and if there’s not, we won’t. Not a whole lot to report. We’re continuing to see if there’s a deal there that makes sense.
If the Flames can't come to terms with the 32-year-old, he'll be a nice consolation prize for a team that strikes out on Vanek. Where would Cammalleri fit in best, though?
The purpose of this list isn't necessarily to predict where he will end up. Instead, we're examining where he'd be most useful.
5. Anaheim Ducks
The Anaheim Ducks were a remarkably top-heavy team last season. Ryan Getzlaf led the way with 87 points, while Corey Perry clipped in with 82. The drop-off after those two was significant, with Nick Bonino finishing as the squad's third-best scorer with 49 points.
Forty-nine points isn't half bad, but the Ducks are going to be looking for someone to give their new second line an identity. Teemu Selanne has retired, and Devante Smith-Pelly seems to have cemented his spot on the top line.
Jakob Silfverberg will see his role increased, but he'll need some help rounding out the top six. That's where Cammalleri comes in. He gives Anaheim an outstanding secondary scoring threat and could cause matchup headaches come playoff time—a time of year where the Ducks want to get better and Cammalleri thrives.
He wouldn't have to be the man in California. He'd just need to supply another 20- or 25-goal season to be worth the payout.
4. New Jersey Devils
Despite losing Ilya Kovalchuk to "retirement" last summer, the New Jersey Devils still managed a decent but unremarkable 35-29-18 season. The team needs help in several areas, but goal scoring is chief among them.
The Devils have never been known as an offensive squad, but they only produced 2.4 goals per game in 2013-14. That's similar to the Los Angeles Kings, but unless New Jersey can match the Stanley Cup Champions in the defensive end, it needs to find more help up front.
He's no Kovalchuk, but Cammalleri could be another piece of the patchwork offense that the Devils put together on the fly last year. They struck out with a few of their additions, but Cammalleri is a known commodity who plays well with a variety of centers.
The six-time 20-goal scorer would fit in well with a veteran group of forwards that includes Patrik Elias and Jaromir Jagr and could play a high number of minutes on the second line and first power-play unit.
3. St. Louis Blues
If the St. Louis Blues don't land Jason Spezza, look for them to attempt to make a splash in the free-agent pool. They don't have a whole lot of room and probably can't take on a player like Stastny, but Cammalleri could fill the biggest need that St. Louis has.
Against the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round, it became clear that the Blues lacked the offensive punch needed to advance. Vladimir Tarasenko looked brilliant at times, but he just couldn't match Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews when it mattered.
Cammalleri is all offensive punch, and he'd automatically become one of the most dangerous shooters in St. Louis' deep arsenal. The Blues are right there in terms of being a Stanley Cup team, and if Cammalleri covets a ring then Missouri might be his best bet.
2. Nashville Predators
It's no secret that the Nashville Predators need to add some offense this offseason. If the Ducks and Blues are looking to grab a secondary scorer, the Predators are looking for someone who can play on the top line.
Cammalleri might not be that guy still, but the options might be somewhat limited for the Predators, as they seem to be an unlikely destination for Vanek or Stastny. If he's looking for money, term and minutes then the Predators would be the way to go.
They are in the midst of a transition, and that might be a scenario Cammalleri has seen enough of after two-plus years in Calgary. If he still wants to be a foundational player for his team, though, the Predators provide that opportunity.
1. Pittsburgh Penguins
The pay cut would have to be substantial, but if Cammalleri was willing to take less than half of what he made on his expiring contact, the Pittsburgh Penguins could potentially make something work. This is a long shot since the Penguins are currently in cap hell and need to re-sign a few of their own players first, but we've seen stranger things happen than Cammalleri landing in Pittsburgh.
This is exactly the kind of player that the Penguins will be looking to add before the season kicks off in October. They need some players that can help Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin score, and Cammalleri is a slick and talented wing who could play with either All-Star.
With his knack for getting to open spaces for one-timers, the sky would be the limit for Cammalleri in Pittsburgh. Again, a lot of things would need to fall into place, but Steel City would be the best fit for the 32-year-old.
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