Scoring is drying up in the California sun. That will create a bidding war for the services of marksman Mike Cammalleri. Is he off to L.A., San Jose, Anaheim? Maybe Vancouver?
It’s as good a time as any to write about it, what with the three California teams losing on home ice in one evening last night. (I never thought that could happen this season.)
Throw in the fact Vancouver lost in Detroit and it’s becoming crystal clear. Mike Cammalleri is going to the coast. The West Coast.
The Calgary Flames sniper will be one of the most sought-after acquisitions as the calendar moves closer to the March 5 NHL trade deadline. And boy, oh boy, will there be a battle between the four teams on the left coast for his scoring services.
The Los Angeles Kings are reeling. Just a few short weeks ago, the hockey world was saying L.A. was on the short list of Stanley Cup contenders. Now with nine losses in their past 10 games, the Kings are shockingly just three points ahead of the final team in the playoff picture in the West. Los Angeles has just 13 goals in 10 games. In a six-game span during the skid, Anze Kopitar was the only King to score and he had three of them.
Los Angeles has fallen to 29th in team offense at 2.26 goals per game. Only the Buffalo Sabres are worse.
The Kings are in dire need of an offensive boost and all the karma signs point to Cammalleri going there. One, he started his NHL career with the Kings. Two, he has a good working relationship with coach Darryl Sutter from their Calgary days together.
The California sputter is infectious lately. The San Jose Sharks have just four regulation goals in five games, four of them losses. The Anaheim Ducks have lost three of their past four. They are both top 10 teams in offense, though.
Cammalleri would be a nice fit in Anaheim and San Jose as well. Even with Matt Nieto scoring a pair of goals last night, the Sharks need some scoring diversity on the left side in the arms race against the likes of Chicago and Pittsburgh. Same goes for the Ducks, who can never quite be sure if or when Dustin Penner is going to provide offense. (Penner has just four goals in his past 24 games, but is a proven playoff producer.)
Speaking of playoff performers, Cammalleri has excellent credentials. He has scored at a 40-plus goal pace in the post-season, most notably with the Montreal Canadiens in 2010. Other marksmen also in demand come trade deadline are Thomas Vanek of the Islanders and Matt Moulson of Buffalo.
If Cammalleri doesn’t wind up in California, the Canucks will also make a concerted push for him. Vancouver has scored just 18 goals in its past 10 games, seven of them losses. The Canucks rank 23rd in offense.
In terms of cap space, Vancouver and San Jose are all but tapped out with less than $1 million apiece, while Los Angeles and especially Anaheim have room to work with. Cammalleri’s cap hit at the trade deadline will be about $1.5 million, but the Flames can eat half of that in an attempt to increase the number of buyers and maximize the return.
Calgary is seeking either a first-round pick and a B-list prospect, or a second-round pick and an A-list prospect.
The more scoring dries up on the West Coast, the better it is for the Calgary Flames.
Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior editor and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Brian Costello on Twitter at @BCostelloTHN