Why Mike Cammalleri and the Devils chose each other

Matt Larkin
MikeCammalleri

At the risk of sounding blasphemous, Mike Cammalleri’s deal with the Devils was all about faith. He chose the team that believed in him most and the team he believed in most.

Calgary fans were disappointed but not surprised when he left in free agency after a resurgent 26-goal campaign. After all, team president Brian Burke retained Cammalleri’s expiring contract at the trade deadline. Burke tried to deal his veteran, but he felt the offers weren’t good enough. He decided to risk losing Cammalleri for nothing and stated his desire to keep him.

Burke and new GM Brad Treliving made offers this summer to Cammalleri for a long-term pact, but they couldn’t compete with what Lou Lamoriello and the New Jersey Devils tabled: five years and $25 million for a 32-year-old who’s missed 15 or more games in four of his past five seasons and is six years removed from his best numbers.

That didn’t matter to Lamoriello, who says he followed and admired Cammalleri’s game all the way back to the University of Michigan.

“He played with an edge and had results,” Lamoriello said. “He’s very diligent and he competes. When you see that in a player, it naturally sticks out. When we were looking at the potential free agencies and the type of player we needed, we felt we needed a scorer. Mike stood right out, and he was one of the top players we looked at, if not the top player.”

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What burning questions remain this NHL off-season?

Ryan Johansen is coming off his entry-level contract with the Blue Jackets, but hasn't signed an extension yet. (Getty Images)

These truly are the dog days of summer. Players, GMs and coaches get their brief time off between the free agency boom and training camps. Media have time to do fun stuff like rank every logo in the NHL. With no hockey, we spend our nights watching Bachelor in Paradise baseball.

But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing happening in the NHL. If you squint, you’ll notice several important questions still unanswered, such as…

1. Will Columbus mend fences with Ryan Johansen and sign him long-term?

The most recent reports out of Columbus had restricted free agent Johansen and the Jackets still $3 million apart. Per season. That’s a Grand Canyonesque gap. So far, the P.K. Subban story isn’t working as a cautionary tale about short-term bridge contracts. After his bridge, Subban won the Norris Trophy and his new long-term cap hit is probably about $2 million more than it would’ve been had Montreal ponied up two years ago and paid him, say, Drew Doughty money.

The Jackets want Johansen to prove his 33-goal breakout was for real, just as they wanted Sergei Bobrovsky to back up his Vezina Trophy campaign when they inked him to a bridge deal last summer. The difference? Nothing about Johansen’s development says fluke. He has pedigree as the No. 4 overall pick in 2010. He was always supposed to be this good. There’s every reason to trust him. Columbus could live to regret a bridge contract. The East is wide open, and this team can contend with its top pivot signed and happy.

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Should these five aging NHL veterans hang in there or hang ‘em up?

Daniel Alfredsson (Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

As we approach late summer, a handful of older NHL veterans remain unsigned. And that begs the question: are they not listening to Father Time telling them they’re due to retire, or are they right to hold out in the hope a job opens up for them? Let’s take a look at five such players and offer an opinion on whether they should hang in there or hang ‘em up:

Saku Koivu, C: At age 39, Koivu had 11 goals and 29 points for Anaheim last season. His Corsi-for number has fallen steadily since 2012 and his ice time has been reduced by an average of more than three minutes a game (to just 15:02 last year) since 2011-12, but remember, he’s been on a deep Ducks team that didn’t need to rely on him. In the right environment – in other words, on a playoff-bound franchise – he can provide help down the middle and on faceoffs. Hang in there or hang ‘em up? Hang in there

Martin Brodeur, G: Nobody questions why Brodeur wants to continue playing. When you’ve accomplished as much as he has and is considered one of the greatest goaltenders in hockey history, it’s only natural you’d want to stick around for as long as possible. But anyone who’s seen the decline in his game in recent years wouldn’t hold it against him if he retired. The lack of interest in him as a starter is telling. If the 42-year-old is willing to play a backup role on a contender, he might have a little bit left in the tank. If not, the writing is on the wall. Hang in there or hang ‘em up? Hang in there as a backup; hang ‘em up as a starter. Read more

Oilers hire Tyler Dellow, advanced stat takeover continues

OilersKings

First, Fenwick Close. Then, the world.

We saw it two weeks ago when the Toronto Maple Leafs named Kyle Dubas assistant GM. Last week, it was the New Jersey Devils’ turn, as they hired Sunny Mehta. Statistician Eric Tulsky also works for a mystery NHL team. Today, as Bob McKenzie reported, Edmonton struck with Tyler Dellow.

A significant chunk of the hockey population likely said “Huh? Who’s that?” upon hearing each of those news nuggets. A minority, albeit a growing minority, went the other way, with a full nerd-gasm.

Those friends who texted you things like “OMG DELLOW, F— YES” are the advanced stat community, celebrating the fact four of their own have now penetrated the NHL.

Dubas is to front offices what Doogie Howser was to medicine, a 28-year-old prodigy (16 in teen doctor years) whose love of baseball statistics spilled over into his hockey analysis. Mehta is a former pro poker player with a strong online presence as an Oilers blogger.

Dellow, who has worked as a lawyer, is one of the strongest voices in the advanced statistic world. He’s best known for using the team he cheered for, the Oilers, as the main subject of his studies. He was often scathing, but he was groundbreaking in his use of the new metrics like Corsi. His site, mc79hockey.com, has been shut down, at least for the time being.

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New Jersey extends underrated Andy Greene for five years, will lead transition to younger blueline

Rory Boylen
Andy Greene

The New Jersey Devils locked up 31-year-old defenseman Andy Greene to a five-year extension that will kick in after next season, the final year of his current contract. The new pact will have a cap hit of $5 million.

Greene is a leader and underrated player on the Devils’ blueline. His 24:34 of average ice time led the team by nearly three minutes over the next highest total from Marek Zidlicky. And, according to GM Lou Lamoriello, they’d like to have him on the ice even more, if it wouldn’t wear him out.

“He’s the top defenseman right now if you have to look at who the top defenseman is,” Lamoriello said in a conference call. “He carries the most minutes in each critical situation, whether it’s 5-on-5, in a defensive situation, or in a power play situation, or in particular penalty killing. We have to try and keep ice time away from him, that’s how important he is, to make sure late in the game he isn’t tired. That’s in indication of what we think of him.”

Lamoriello praised Greene as an “all-situations” defenseman, a relatively rare value that left the GM confident to lock him up for five years beyond the next one. And given where the Devils are at, Greene will be the leader of the blueline as they transition to a younger core of defensemen with solid upsides. Read more

At what point this summer do we change the “U” in UFA to unwanted?

Tampa Bay Lightning v Washington Capitals

For those NHL players who don’t step willingly into retirement, there eventually comes a day when UFA stands for unwanted free agent rather than unrestricted free agent.

As July ends and August begins, we’re now closer to the start of NHL training camps than we are the final game of the Stanley Cup playoffs. For unsigned UFAs, that’s an added layer of anxiety. What if nobody wants me and I’ve played my last NHL game?

Take a browse through capgeek.com and you’ll see half the NHL teams are already at the 23-man NHL roster limit. Another nine teams are at 22 players. And that doesn’t even include the several dozen or so non-roster rookie prospects who will surely make big-league rosters in October.

So not a lot of roster openings remain.

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NHL logo rankings No. 18: New Jersey Devils

Rory Boylen
New Jersey Devils

Jersey Devil, you’re up.

The New Jersey Devils franchise has been relocated twice before: from Kansas City to Colorado and from Colorado to New Jersey. Through that, the team has had three different nicknames and three vastly different logos, with slight variations made to the devilish look over three decades.

The history of this franchise was marred with failure until it finally found success in the 1990s after Martin Brodeur and the neutral zone trap came along. But before that came the Kansas City Scouts, who departed the city after just two seasons, and the Colorado Rockies, who made the post-season just once in their six years of existence and didn’t win a game. The most famous thing about the Rockies may be Hardy Astrom, made famous by coach Don Cherry who dubbed him ‘The Swedish Sieve.’ And Astrom only played two seasons with the team, while Cherry was behind the bench for only one before heading off to start Coach’s Corner. Of course, Colorado did also have the much better Chico Resch in net for their last season in the city before moving to New Jersey. But when I think of the Rockies, I think of Cherry and Astrom – because this team was just terrible.

The current Devil design is a clever logo that no one felt tremendously passionate about placing in the top 10, or despised enough to place in the bottom 10, so it fits in neatly to the middle of the pack.

Do you think you can come up with a design that would move the Devils logo up in our rankings? Here’s your chance. Send in your Devils logo redesign to editorial@thehockeynews.com in whichever color scheme you wish and we’ll run our favorite reader redesigns at the end of our logo ranking rollout. And if you enjoy doing that, why not try redesigning other NHL logos, too?

All logos from Chris Creamer’s website.

HISTORY OF THE SCOUTS/ROCKIES/DEVILS LOGO
In 1967, the NHL began expanding into markets beyond the traditional Original Six. Six news teams were added in ’67, two more in 1970, another two in 1972 and the cycle ended with two more in 1974. The Kansas City Scouts were one of the teams added in ’74, but they didn’t last very long.

The Scouts were named after a statue in Penn Valley Park that depicts a Native American on horseback. According to VisitKC.com the “sculpture was originally created for the Panama-Pacific Expo held in San Francisco in 1915. On its return trip east, The Scout stopped over at Penn Valley Park. Citizens enjoyed the sculpture so much they raised $15,000 to purchase it for the city.”

The Scout statue that overlooks the city was featured in the Kansas City logo. The team was originally going to be named the Mohawks, to bring the border states Missouri and Kansas together. “MO” for Missouri and “hawks” to represent the Jayhawks of Kansas.

Kansas City Scouts

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THN’s pre-season prediction debates underscores how parity has made the NHL unpredictable

Adam Proteau
Roberto Luongo (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Every year around this time, THN’s editorial staff convenes in a boardroom to hash out our pre-season NHL predictions. The predictions meeting is a raucous couple of hours in which, after consulting with coaches, scouts, and our larger network of contacts, we debate the merits and flaws of every team before we slot them into divisional finishes. And by its conclusion, we’ve established some semblance of probability for each franchise’s fortunes.

But this year’s meeting had some particularly interesting aspects. For one thing, a majority of staffers liked one team in particular to win the Stanley Cup – yes, you’ll have to wait until our annual Yearbook is released in mid-August to find out which team that is – but the more intriguing development was the astonishing range of opinion on the grand majority of teams.

Now, there wasn’t much differentiation in what we thought of the league’s very best and worst franchises (nobody was willing to argue the Ducks would miss the playoffs, nor that the Sabres would win the Presidents’ Trophy as the NHL’s top regular-season squad), but once we stopped talking about a handful of teams destined for the penthouse or outhouse, our expectations varied drastically.

Take the New Jersey Devils, for instance. Read more