Sunday, June 10, 2007

One of My Favorite Kings - Cammalleri

Before the ’06-’07 season, the Kings signed Michael Cammalleri to a one-year deal worth $1.7 million. Considering how well he played the prior season, I was a bit surprised that the deal wasn’t longer. He’s a Restricted Free Agent and I’ve been worrying ever since the season ended that the Kings and Cammalleri won’t come to an agreement and then he’ll be picked up by another team. He's one of my favorite current Kings (along with Fro, Kopi, and the newly signed JMFJ) and I definitely don't want to see him go. The LA Kings website has an interview with him about the gold medal he recently won with Team Canada at the World Championships. In a couple questions he says that he’s “looking forward to coming back to camp in September.” I know that it’s not uncommon for celebrities and athletes to say what their fans want to hear, but I think he’s being honest by saying that he’s looking forward to returning to the Kings. After more thought, I’m not surprised that he only signed a one-year deal.

Cammalleri has played three seasons in the NHL with remarkable improvement every season. He only played in 31 games his first season and recorded 15 points. He played in 80 games and recorded 55 points (26 goals, 29 assists, but a -14) in the season following the lockout. I think a one-year deal was agreed upon so that both sides could see how Cammalleri would play in the ’06-’07 season. If he does exceptionally well, then he could demand a pay raise and the Kings would want him back and be willing to give him the pay raise that he deserves. If he under performs, then the Kings could reevaluate whether or not he should return and not offer a pay raise.

In a season that was marked by a lot of negatives, one of the few positives that fans observed was the emergence of Cammalleri as a leader on the scoreboard. In 81 games he had 80 points (34 goals, 46 assists, and +5). He had 16 PPGs, 21 PPAs and 5 GWs. This past season he led the Kings in points and was one short of tying
Alexander Frolov for the lead in goals. Overall in the NHL, he tied for 23rd in goals, 39th for assists and 27th for points. So what do I expect his next deal to be worth? I expect him to sign around a 3-4 year deal worth about the same as Frolov. Frolov is signed through the ’09-’10 season and will make $3 million this coming season, $3.5 the year after and $4 in the final season of his contract. Luckily the Kings have Kopitar at a huge discount (under $900K) through the ’08-’09 season, so the Kings have several more seasons before they’ll have to shell out to keep their star players. Let's hope I'm right and Cammalleri returns with a well deserved pay increase. Otherwise, that will make me a sa-a-a-a-ad panda.

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