Nobody likes head injuries, but I particularly dislike the concussion that Mike Cammalleri suffered in a 2-1 loss to the Penguins last Saturday night.
Obviously I’m concerned for his personal well-being. I sincerely hope for his own sake that he gets healthy fast.
But I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought beyond the individual.
Cammalleri’s concussion is his second injury of the campaign, thanks to a hand injury that kept him sidelined for the first seven games of the season (he also missed a December game with the flu.) Heading into this Saturday’s game in Vancouver, the Flames’ lettered players – captain Mark Giordano and alternate captains Curtis Glencross and Cammalleri – have missed a combined 53-man games this season. In its first full season without its franchise captain, the injuries that have swept this team’s leaders aren’t particularly helpful.
The 31-year-old forward’s absence also punches Calgary’s offense in the gut. Cammalleri is second in team scoring with 21 points in 37 games, and tied for the team lead in goals with 13. Granted, some might say that on a team that’s 28th in goals scored and 29th in goals per game, it doesn’t make much of a difference one way or another. Given that Cammalleri has only been gone two games with this concussion and the Flames have just two wins in 11 games since Christmas, scoring a grand total of 10 goals in that span, I can certainly see the fairness of that argument.
I would argue that those facts make Cammalleri’s absence that much more painful, that his absence makes bucking the trend that much more difficult. And I’d wager that his teammates would agree with me. I doubt the shockwaves end on the ice, as Brian Burke and his team are likely agitated by the situation and rightly so.
Cammalleri is Calgary’s most valuable asset in the trade market, which is once again becoming the present focus of the league. He`s more than a proven producer, he’s a proven producer in the playoffs. He’s got 32 career points in 32 post-season games, 17 of which are goals.
Those numbers, coupled with the fact that he’s a UFA next season, make him appealing for teams looking to add scoring depth for a Cup run. Los Angeles and Pittsburgh, for example, are teams that have been mentioned in relation to Cammalleri.
But the forward’s contract comes with a cap hit of $6 million, so you can bet that any team that makes a move for him will be doing so trusting that Cammalleri will produce. And in order for that trust to be there, they need to see Cammalleri play.
Because of the Olympics, there won’t be any NHL hockey games or trades between Feb.7 and Feb. 23. As a result, the Flames have 12 games between now and the trade deadline on March 3, including Saturday against the Canucks. The longer Cammalleri sits out, the fewer opportunities he has to audition for a team he wants to play for (he has a limited no-trade clause, so he’ll have a hand in his own fate). It also means a smaller sample size of recent play for prospective teams to look at when it comes to building that aforementioned trust. With the rebuild ongoing and, according to Brian Burke, moving along too slowly, Calgary needs to score a big return on a skilled player who doesn’t logically fit into their plans for the future. Cammalleri has only one goal with a minus-5 rating since the holiday break, so for everybody involved, the sooner he gets back on the ice, the better.
I’m looking at this in an admittedly dark light. The “indefinitely” used to describe Cammalleri’s absence is common terminology when it comes to concussions, and for all I know, he could be back with the team when their four-game homestand begins on Wednesday, after missing their current two-game road trip. But he could be out far longer than that, or continue to struggle offensively when he returns. Either way, Mike Cammalleri’s concussion complicates an unorthodox trade year for a young team already faced with the delicate task of exchanging their veterans for the ingredients of their future, and trying to score goals in the meantime.
Get better soon, Cammy.
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