Thursday, 12 January 2012

Back To Calgary

I was just stepping off the ice at hockey when the latest NHL trade was announced. At first, I thought it might be a joke when you consider that the player that Montreal was receiving was serving a suspension, but it turned out to be very true once I found out that the player being sent to Calgary had been pulled off the ice for the Canadiens tonight. And with that, the chatter on the team went from our game to the Mike Cammalleri-Rene Bourque trade.

The full trade sees Calgary ship Rene Bourque, Patrick Holland, and a second-round pick in the 2013 draft to Montreal for Mike Cammalleri, Karri Ramo and a fifth-round pick in the 2012 draft. Calgary now holds Ramo's rights as he tends nets in the KHL for Avangard Omsk. Honestly, this trade seems a little one-sided when you first look at this trade, but I think that the Canadiens actually may come out ahead on this one. Seriously.

Calgary is apparently making a serious run at a playoff spot, and they needed to find a scoring option to help Jarome Iginla. Bringing in Cammalleri, who posted career highs in goals and points in Calgary, should help both the powerplay and the offence in general. Calgary certainly will get some help if Cammalleri can break out of his slump this season alongside Iginla, and that, in turn, will help the Flames immensely as they push for a playoff spot in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.

Karri Ramo is in his third season with Avangard Omsk, and there's no guarantee he'll return to North America. Sure, there's the possibility that he could replace Miikka Kiprusoff, but Ramo is playing pretty good hockey in Russia. It may take a significant deal to bring him over, especially one that offers no possibility of being shipped down to Abbotsford of the AHL. Even that, though, may not bring Ramo over as his success in the KHL has kept him there for the last few seasons.

The fifth-round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft is nice, but it's a middle-round pick. Unless there's some significant talent available in this draft, I haven't seen Calgary's scouting team have much success outside of the first few rounds.

After all the controversy in Montreal, I think people will view this trade negatively at first because of the statistics, but there's a lot to like about this deal if you're a Habs fan. And yes, I'm very serious.

First, the Canadiens bring in a bigger player - something they sorely lack. Besides Erik Cole, the Canadiens don't have anyone else who could even remotely be considered a "power forward". Rene Bourque certainly brings a more physical edge than Cammalleri, and his larger frame can help on the powerplay in front of the net, a place rarely visited by Canadien players.

While Bourque's offensive potential isn't nearly as high as Cammalleri's is, the fact that the Canadiens receive a player that is willing to go into the corners and throw his body around is a significant change from the way this team plays. Bourque's physical element, if he plays clean, should open up ice for the rest of the Canadiens, and that will make their jobs a little easier. Offensive potential aside, Bourque should help his teammates get closer to their potentials if he can play in a physical but controlled manner.

Throw in the fact that Bourque's contract is way more affordable than Cammalleri's deal, and the Canadiens also get a very important luxury in this deal: about $3 million in cap space. That amount of money can buy the Canadiens a pretty nice rental piece for the playoffs if they can move up the Eastern Conference standings. If not, they have that much available for free agent signings this off-season.

Patrick Holland, I think, is a bit of a steal in this deal. Holland is in his third season with the WHL's Tri-City Americans, and he's certainly getting better with each season. He has nearly equaled his 62-point season from last year, and we're only halfway through the WHL season thus far. He was the Americans' Rookie of the Year in 2009-10, and his progress has continued to snowball as he has shown better vision, a fabulous set of hands, and excellent skating as he gets stronger.

Holland won't be the next Ovechkin or Crosby, however. What you'll get out of Holland is a solid third-line player who will kill penalties, score when given the opportunity, and give 100% every time he's on the ice. He's the kind of player that every coach loves to have because he'll do his job efficiently, not be a liability on defence, and he'll give you the same consistent effort on every shift. Holland will need some seasoning in the AHL before getting a chance with the Canadiens, but I think that Holland has a very good chance to be the same type of player as a Mike Peca or Todd Marchant. Every team can use a solid two-way player like Holland.

Toss in that second-round pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, and the Canadiens come away with possibly two good young players, a physical forward desperately needed in Rene Bourque, and some good cap flexibility. If you ask me, the Canadiens come away from this trade in a great position.

The Flames, while getting the potential offence of Cammalleri for the remainder of his contract, give up cap space, give up a high-round draft pick in 2013, give up a solid junior player, and get little in return other than a goaltender in the KHL. I'm not sure this trade really benefits the Flames beyond this season.

For everyone who thinks that Cammalleri was traded because of his "loser" comments to the media the other day, both Pierre Gauthier and Jay Feaster shot down those ideas.

"No, not at all," Gauthier told the media. "I didn't make a big deal about all that. There's emotion around the team, somebody says something, I'd rather see emotion than people that don't care. He never asked to be traded or anything. He's part of the team and he cares a lot. That's why he made those comments."

"When Bourquie was suspended this most recent time, I thought there no sense trying to advance it any further while he was on the suspended list," Feaster said. "Last night, Pierre called and asked if we were still interested and I said we were, and we started working on it again last night and into today and ultimately got it done late this afternoon."

And so it begins again for Cammalleri in Calgary as he joins the Flames for the second time in his career. As for Rene Bourque, he might be able to join head coach Randy Cunneyworth in learning French as he gets a new start in Montreal. It will be interesting to see how these two trades change the dynamics of the respective teams, but I believe the long-term benefits will be experienced by Montreal more than Calgary.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Peter Santellan said...

I personally think this is more of a wash if you're only going by Cammalleri for Bourque straight up. Obviously, what Ramo, Holland, and the draft picks turn out to be in the NHL will make the difference. Given both teams' inability to develop young talent in recent years, I personally think it will end up rather even in the long run.

Sage Confucius said...

The best part about this trade is that now Rene Bourque will be in my town at the beginning of April. After that cheap shot on my boy Backstrom, he had better be very careful walking between the bus and the arena. He could trip or something. I have just over two months to figure out the logistics. Hahahaha!