First Foray Into The Frenzy: Devils Sign Mike Cammalleri

Cammalleri will now be with Zajac, not against him. - Bruce Bennett

Just over a half hour into the start of free agency, the Devils ink former Calgary forward Mike Cammalleri to a 5 year deal worth $25 million total. My initial reaction is basically: blah. Let's take a look at what this means for our favorite team.

At around 12:37 PM eastern time, Rich Chere of the Star Ledger tweeted out that the Devils had officially signed former Calgary Flames forward Mike Cammalleri to a 5 year deal worth $25 million dollars, which equates to an average annual value (AAV) of $5 million.

For Cammalleri, this is a slight pay decrease than his previous contract, which was a 5 year deal first in Montreal, and then Calgary for an AAV of $6 million.  For the Devils, he becomes the 3rd highest paid forward, after Travas Zajac and Patrik Elias.  The deal keeps him in New Jersey through the 2018-2019 season.  Cammalleri is currently 32 years old, meaning that he will be beyond his 37th birthday when his contract expires.

Let's look at his underlying numbers before going into opinions.  Cammalleri entered the NHL with the Los Angeles Kings back in the 2002-2003 season.  His first full season was with the Kings in 2005-2006, where he put up 55 points in 80 games played.  His best season by far was the 2008-2009 campaign, where he scored 39 goals and 82 points in 81 games played for the Flames.  Over the course of his career, he has totaled 502 points in 669 games played, which equates to 0.75 points per game, not a bad number at all.

More relevant, however, are his past three seasons, most of which were with Calgary.  Before going into the numbers, however, it must be noted that Calgary has been a pretty bad team.  While they did have an above .500 record three years ago, they failed to make the playoffs each of those season, and have gotten worse each year.  Last year, the team totaled only 77 points.  This has undoubtedly worked to suppress Cammaller's numbers.  Therefore, we should not expect excellent point totals.

The statistics for the last three season's of his career are kept here at Extra Skater.  Three years ago, he scored 40 points in 65 games.  In the lockout shortened year, he put up 32 points in 44 games, and this past season he put up 45 points in 63 games played.  These are not terrible numbers overall, especially on a bad team.  The problem, however, is that they are not eye opening, especially not at $5 million a year.  In terms of possession, Cammalleri's Corsi numbers have improved each of the past three seasons, to the point where he was a positive possession player last year on a terribly poor possession team.  He had a Corsi For of 50.8%, which on the Flames equated to a relative Corsi of +6.7%.  This was by far his best possession season.  The previous two seasons, his Corsi was not above and beyond his team's numbers, and in fact, his relative Corsi three years ago was a -0.9% with a Corsi For of 46.8%.  So he clearly has improved the past few seasons in terms of possession.  However, the fact the he really only had one good season of possession numbers is a little disconcerting.  Was it just an outlier, or are last year's numbers going to be more of the norm in New Jersey?  That is a big question.

Now, for the opinion.  At first, I was not real pleased with this signing.  Lou Lamoriello was interested in him at the trade deadline, but the trade never went through.  At the time, I was pleased about that.  I felt that Cammalleri was simply an above average forward at best who would not be the spark that the team needed.  I still feel similarly.  He is a solid player, and I do not feel like he will really hurt this organization in any way.  He will produce some points, and play well alongside the likes of Zajac, Jaromir Jagr, Elias, and Adam Henrique. For $5 million a year, however, I want my players to produce more and be more of a factor, and I simply do not see that from Cammalleri's numbers.  I really hope that I am wrong, and I hope that he is a excellent fit in Pete DeBoer's system and thrives for the club, but I do not have extremely high hopes.  I equate this signing more to the Ryane Clowe signing, one where I feel like Lou made a move simply to make one, not because it was the right move.

Anyway, those are the underlying numbers along with my opinion.  What do you think?  Was this a good signing for our favorite team, or was it a dud?  Do you think that Mike Cammalleri is the answer, or is he just another ancillary piece needing a star to thrive?  Who else do you hope to see the Devils sign today and in free agency?  Please leave your comments below, and thank you for reading.

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