While Montreal has not delivered many wins on the ice, the organization has certainly delivered plenty of story lines off of it. That fact became even more evident on Thursday, when the Canadiens traded, mid-game no less, Mike Cammalleri to the Flames. Pierre Gauthier also included goaltender Karri Ramo and a fifth round pick, in return receiving Rene Bourque, Patrick Holland and a second round pick.
Needless to say, our writers were more than happy to take an opportunity to chime in on the move. In fact, our staff was so vociferous on this topic that we were forced to split their feedback into two pieces. Without further ado, the first half of HabsWorld staff give their two cents on the Canadiens’ most recent deal.
Matt Dilworth: It’s always hard to be happy with a trade when it is your team giving up the best player in the deal. No one can deny that Cammalleri’s talent far outweighs that of Bourque’s, and it’s understandable why most fans were instantly outraged upon hearing about the trade.
Perhaps it’s just an attempt to try see the positive side, but I found a way to be content with this trade. The truth is that Cammalleri was giving no indication that he would ever be the 39 goal scorer the Habs were paying for, and the acquisition of Bourque should effectively replace his goals (Bourque is on pace for 27) while costing about half the price. Moreover, the Habs upgrade their fifth round pick to a second rounder, and turn a goalie likely destined to remain in the KHL into a decent prospect.
For me, once I could get past the fact that Cammy was a personal favourite of mine, and accepted that he probably would never be the sniper he is paid to be, the trade became tolerable. That is not to say that there aren’t concerns; Bourque’s reputation as being lazy, on the decline, and a cheapshot artist precede him, but he does bring an element of grit and size that Cammalleri lacked. I’m sure Gauthier is banking on the fact that Bourque will be a better fit in the locker room, as Cammalleri’s attitude was rumoured to have been detrimental. Although I could probably devote a paragraph to the unprofessional manner in which the trade went down, I will remain cautiously and marginally optimistic about this deal.
Frederic Doyon: When the deal was announced, I must say that I was pretty disappointed at the return and how the deal went down.
Not only was Montreal obtaining a guy with a Kovalev-like reputation, but the Habs gave away the best scorer of their last two playoffs runs.
I never liked Rene Bourque as a Flame and was a fan of Cammy even this season where I was blaming him among many others for our lack of offensive production. I really hope that Bourque can step up his game and score some goals.
I also feel like Gauthier threw in the towel. He can keep saying that he feels the team is now better, but I’m not sold on that at all. Montreal dealt a guy who is supposed to be a 70-point player but was on pace for 50 points for a player that is only supposed to be a 50-point player. Too many players are still asleep at the wheel. I doubt Bourque’s coming is the key to get them to wake up.
The bright side of this trade is the future considerations. The Canadiens obtain a 2nd pick in a draft this is supposed to be very deep and save nearly three million dollars in cap space. That money should help the Habs in signing RFA’s Price, Eller and Subban or even Andrei Kostitsyn, a player that I want to keep around.
Time will tell…
George Kouniakis: I was a little surprised at the when and the how, but not shocked to see Cammalleri traded. I have had my suspicions all season long that he wasn’t happy and even cited this during my weigh-in when Martin was fired. I really wanted Cammalleri to excel as an offensive force in Montreal, but alas, it just wasn’t working. And in a salary-capped league, it becomes very hard to keep a six million dollar player who isn’t scoring six million dollars worth of goals. But I actually like the return on the trade. Rene Bourque is a very consistent goal scorer over his career, good for 25-30 goals over 82 games. He has good size and scores from the “dirty areas”. This season in particular the Canadiens have struggled against bigger teams and have been forced to play the perimeter far too often. Bourque should help in this department. Factor in nearly three million in cap space savings and there is definitely a silver lining.
Matt Gauthier: Patch work and bad decisions. Montreal didn’t acquire Bourque, they traded away Cammalleri. That’s the feeling many Habs fans have. That reactive and negative sensation has been around for a while now. Management didn’t promote Cunneyworth, they kicked out Martin. Gauthier didn’t acquire Eller, he got rid of Halak. Bad decisions were made too. Markov was signed instead of Gorges last summer and, while Markov hasn’t even played yet, Gorges has forced management to sign him during the season (against team policy) to a big contract. Gauthier will continue ripping and patching up the Habs until Patrick Roy meets destiny and infuse a new passion and image to this lethargic team.
Brian La Rose: The return the Habs got in this trade is far from scintillating but it’s not a bad move. I’m not as concerned as to how Cammalleri will perform in Calgary relative to how Bourque does with the Habs as I am with how Bourque does compared to how Cammalleri would have had he stayed with the team. Over the past three years, Bourque has put up or been on pace for 50 points. That’s not far off of what Cammalleri was bringing offensively to the Habs. If he can put up that type of similar production, the Habs will do pretty well for themselves here. Does Cammalleri have the most upside in the trade? Without question and there’s no denying he has the most talent of the pieces in the deal. If he can rediscover his scoring touch, the Flames will also do well here. I like the fact there’s a good draft pick coming Montreal’s way and Patrick Holland is an intriguing, albeit low ceiling prospect. As Karri Ramo wasn’t coming to North America with Carey Price still being around, he’s no big loss to Montreal. And let’s not forget the cap space ($2.67 M) here, that in itself can help bring in another player to help compensate for the drop off in scoring from Cammalleri to Bourque.
That all said, I’m not a big fan of how this all went down although I have to admit the unique sense of anticipation in the 3rd period knowing something was about to happen was fun, even if it made for a busy night writing wise. Spin jobs by both teams aside, this sounds like it came together in large part due to Cammalleri’s comments. Given the other pieces, I’m sure part of it was discussed in advance but this seemed rushed, especially hearing some GM’s suggest they weren’t aware he was available. That doesn’t mean any of them would have made a better offer but it’s still a little disconcerting nonetheless. I’m all for keeping cards close to the vest; even though it’s not as fun for the fans it can be beneficial in the long term, provided the GM does all the required due diligence behind the scenes. All evidence suggests Pierre Gauthier didn’t do so here. Was a package surrounding Rene Bourque the best he could do within the parameters of Cammalleri’s limited no-trade clause? Perhaps. But the immediate comments coming out after the deal suggesting he didn’t exhaust all of his options makes this return, as decent as it is, a little tough to swallow.