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Season Review: Mike Cammalleri

I was going to wait until the Detroit-Dallas game was over, but I think I can go ahead and put it up now.

Stats: 63 Games, 19 G, 28 A, 47 P, -16, 30 PIM

Grade: D

Nickname: Cammy

Last Season:
That's pretty much the only word that can describe Cammalleri's season. For a guy who has increased his point total every year since 2002 (and who finished 2nd only to Jason Spezza in points in the AHL during the lockout year), Cammalleri crashed pretty hard. After a hot start (10 goals in the first 10 games), Cammalleri looked pretty set to increase his point totals once again until a slump followed by a rib injury knocked him out for a month. When he did come back, Cammalleri had basically been replaced by Patrick O'Sullivan (the "win" to Cammalleri's "wang") and could never really find a role for himself. Cammalleri also had to be hampered by a Los Angeles crowd that had completely turned on him; he went from being one of the building blocks of a young team to a cancer that must be traded this off-season. Funny how perceptions change in 1 season.

Still, I don't think Cammalleri should be dismissed for $.50 cents on the dollar. Lest we forget, Cammalleri tallied 80 points last season on a line with Alex Frolov and Derek Armstrong. And, if we're being completely fair, Cammalleri wasn't too far off his career numbers before he got injured (26 points in 34 games). I would think the drop in points can be related to the fact that Cammalleri was now playing on a line with Kopitar and was no longer responsible for carrying the puck into the zone.

And again, if we're being fair, we need to dismiss the notion that Cammalleri shoots too much and is some kind of puck-hog. In his career, Cammalleri has more assists than goals. He does shoot a lot (he would probably have led the team in shots if he had played a full season), but that's because he has the best shot on the team. I was at a game this season and some obese guy (who was clearly well-versed on the proper execution of the 2-on-1) bitched about how Cammalleri is selfish because he didn't pass to Derek Armstrong. Let me repeat that, because it gives keen insight as to how idiotic fans can be: the guy complained because Cammy didn't pass to Derek Armstrong. I'd rather he pass to the other team than Derek Armstrong. Instead, Cammy took a shot and missed high.* It was the best play to make, because the defensman did his job and took away the pass (like he needed to). It wouldn't make sense for Cammalleri to pass there because it's not playing to his strengths and the shot was there.

Still, by any reasonable measure this was a bad season for Cammalleri, and I'm sure he'd be the first to tell you that. Last year, Dean Lombardi made the point that Cammalleri has proven that he can be the best person on a bad team but hasn't yet proven that he can be the best on a good team. Right now, I'd say Kopitar, Frolov, Brown and maybe O'Sullivan have all passed him by. It remains to be seen if Cammalleri can adapt to his new role and get used to playing without the puck.

*This is another thing that bothers me, when people complain because a player missed the net. Hey, dick, he's trying to hit where the goalie isn't. You want him to put it in the goalie's chest? The guy is moving 20 miles per hour and is trying to aim a puck into a 4-inch wide area of the net, all while a defenseman is draped over him. I'm amazed these guys can even get a shot off, let alone score 10% of the time.

Next Year: Obviously, I'd be remiss* if I didn't mention the whole contract thing. Last year Cammalleri famously asked for a $6 million dollar/year contract after one good offensive season. When he got $3.4 a year for two years, many people speculated that he would piss and moan** and underperform this year. Now, after a subpar campaign, many people are assuming that he'll get traded this summer for a defenseman. I'm not so sure. It's no sure thing that Ted Purcell can replace Cammalleri's production and I think a line like Frolov-Boyle-Cammalleri can be dynamic. The Kings are not in a position to lessen their depth at any position and besides, the Kings could get more value for Cammalleri if they wait until he rebounds next year.

Cammalleri has always seemed like a good guy (if a little smug for being barely 5'9"), and perhaps now that his former agent is pulling the strings in Vancouver the Kings can get him to agree to a salary in line with what he is: a very nice secondary player. If not, trade him if you think you can get value for him. The Kings don't need to paint themselves in a corner where they either sign him for Martin Erat money (what the hell was that all about, anyway?) or trade him for some middling defenseman. If he wants to leave, he leaves. That's the nature of the business. Still, I hope Cammy sees the light and sticks around. He's a valuable player on the power play and a good complementary player. If he thinks he's anything more, though, then I can't say I'd keep him around.

*I'd also be a douche bag for using the word "remiss."

**When the hell did the phrase "piss and moan" come to mean "complain?" If somebody around me is pissing and moaning, I'm assuming they're in need of immediate medical attention.