Ryan Strome

Why Cammalleri – Jokinen trade happened, and what’s next (Video)

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Last night, PHT broke down the Michael Cammalleri (to Edmonton Oilers) – Jussi Jokinen (to Los Angeles Kings) from a variety of angles.

One of the most optimistic scenarios was reflected in the headline: what if Edmonton tries to diversify its offense by putting Cammalleri on Connor McDavid‘s wing, possibly opening up Leon Draisaitl to try to carry his own line?

Perhaps that’s a possibility as time goes on – coaches juggle lines about as much as college kids used to love kicking around hacky sacks – but it sounds like that won’t be the case early on.

Bob McKenzie swung by the NBCSN studio on Wednesday to provide more insight, and from the sound of things, the two forwards are trading places and, essentially, roles. (His takeaways can be seen in the video above this post’s headline.)

While the Oilers want more offensive pop from Cammalleri, McKenzie indicates that he’s expected to line up with Ryan Strome and Drake Caggiula. As mentioned yesterday, Natural Hat Trick lists those two forwards as Jokinen’s most common even-strength forward linemates.

McKenzie reports that Jokinen is most likely to slot into a bottom-six role; considering that Cammalleri’s most common linemate was Trevor Lewis, it sounds like that’s a pretty clear reversal, too.

That said, the man with an appetizer-like last name did average about two minutes of power-play time per game, and that’s where things get more interesting. McKenzie posits that Jokinen will be happier with a diminished role than Cammalleri would be; that’s especially relevant since fellow aging former-high-scorer Marian Gaborik is slated to return to the Kings’ lineup.

Gabby may have bumped Cammy for a while, which may have irked, especially since Cammalleri accepted quite the “hometown” discount to return to L.A. Jokinen might be more comfortable with a humble role, and considering his lone point (an assist) this season, he can’t do much complaining right now.

Both forwards are fairly versatile, and that might be relevant to the Kings, as Gaborik was injury prone even during his most brilliant, younger days.

There might be some fluidity to Jokinen’s situation, too, as Kings coach John Stevens explained to L.A. Kings Insider’s Jon Rosen that there might be a bit of a “getting to know you” process.

“I know him as a player before. I haven’t seen him play lately, but he’s just a good, well-rounded, intelligent player,” Stevens said of Jokinen. “I recall he was great in the shootout, but I think he can play multiple positions. I think he’s a really high-hockey IQ guy with a good competitive skill package. It’ll be a good chance to get him on the ice with the guys and make an evaluation from that point.”

If nothing else, Jokinen can be around for a Young Stars reunion with Anze Kopitar:

Overall, this trade could benefit all involved, even if the Oilers seem to have fairly modest aims for Cammalleri.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

New winger for McDavid? Cammalleri traded to Oilers, Kings get Jokinen

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When the Los Angeles Kings acquired Mike Cammalleri, the move fit into a summer theme of veteran forwards returning “home” for dirt-cheap prices. Jussi Jokinen didn’t have the same history with the Edmonton Oilers, yet for a team with a penchant for paying way above market value for most of their players, it seemed like a refreshingly savvy bargain.

At least, that’s how those additions looked on paper.

It hasn’t always been that way on the ice, however, so the two teams made an interesting swap: Cammalleri goes to the Oilers, while Jokinen joins the Kings. Edmonton recently confirmed the deal:

The two forwards are in remarkably similar situations, at least in the most basic ways.

Cammalleri is 35 while Jokinen is 34; they’re less than a year apart if you get finicky about 365 days. Both players could play center in a pinch but are best kept on the wing considering age. They carry virtually identical cap numbers: Jokinen is at $1.1M and Cammalleri is at $1M, with both deals expiring after 2017-18.

So, yeah, this is pretty much a “pure hockey trade” in which two teams are exchanging “problems” and aiming at a solution.

If you go purely by this season’s numbers and consider the absolute peaks of both players, Cammalleri strikes as the sexier choice. He’s generated seven points in 15 games for L.A., which really isn’t bad when you consider the fact that he’s averaging just 12:38 of ice time per game. That said, his possession numbers have been rough, especially relative to his Kings teammates.

Jokinen is averaging about the same amount of reps as Cammalleri (12:19 TOI average), but hasn’t scored a single goal and has only managed one assist. On the other hand, Jokinen’s possession numbers give some hint that he might help the Kings in ways that are a bit more subtle.

The more fascinating question is: will their coaches use them differently in new locales?

If not, then both may suffer. Via Natural Stat Trick, Cammalleri’s most common forward linemate at even-strength was Trevor Lewis. Jokinen, meanwhile, often skated with struggling new Oiler Ryan Strome.

You could chalk up some of the scoring differences to usage; Jokinen averaged 1:11 of power-play time with Edmonton, while Cammalleri got a healthy 2:36 per night.

Looking back to last season, you could argue that both forwards bring something to the table, even if neither blow you away in many categories:

via Dom Galamini

The real question will be if they get a new lease on life, with Cammalleri being the most interesting strictly if Todd McLellan gives him a real chance with Connor McDavid. Even if Cammy is limited, possibly prompting McLellan to spread the wealth (i.e. maybe move Leon Draisaitl to his own line), this trade could be a big win in a more indirect way.

One must also acknowledge the injury risks, especially as it pertains to some of Cammalleri’s frustrations.

Overall, this might be a lateral move, with the Oilers getting someone with maybe a touch more shooting talent and the Kings adding someone who might help them hog the puck a bit more.

It’s also fairly interesting, too, so there’s that. Both teams play tonight, so we’ll see when these two debut in new uniforms.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Best NHL trade targets with Duchene off the market

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Fans of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Columbus Blue Jackets, Carolina Hurricanes, and other teams must feel a little left out after this weekend.

While those GMs either were afraid to pay the sticker price or weren’t in the conversation, the bottom line is that the Ottawa Senators got Matt Duchene, the Nashville Predators added Kyle Turris, and the Colorado Avalanche’s future looks brighter.

[Breaking down blockbuster Matt Duchene, Kyle Turris trade]

So, what’s next for teams hoping to add that missing piece?

As Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen told Aaron Portzline of The Athletic (sub required), “some stuff will always come up.”

With that in mind, let’s consider some of the best trade targets post-Duchene. For the sake of brevity, we’ll stick to forwards; maybe there will be a time to discuss the Keith Yandles of the world some other day. The likelihood of possible moves varies, and will likely change dramatically as the season goes along.

(Note: As usual, Cap Friendly was a glorious resource for this.)

Mandatory, especially unrealistic mentions

John Tavares: Even if they’re more worried about letting him go than they’re letting on, it’s very difficult to picture New York Islanders GM Garth Snow actually trading the face of the franchise and a guy who is, during the bleakest moments, the only bright side to look on.

Still, I’d have to turn in my blogger’s badge if I didn’t at least mention Tavares, because a team would offer up its vital organs if JT actually did go on the market.

The Sedin twins are unlikely as well, though in wildly different ways. Throw Joe Thornton here, too.

A bucket of Golden Knights

Even if the Vegas Golden Knights remain competitive heading into the trade deadline, GM George McPhee could be forgiven if he jumps on a good offer. It’s possible they can have their cake and eat it too, really.

  • James Neal: You can go in circles talking about the negatives (he’s 30, can sometimes go invisible for a while, takes bad frustration penalties), but getting a big, prime-ish-age sniper could be huge for a contending team. If Vegas decides he’s not a part of the future, why not sell high?
  • David Perron: A lot like Neal – they even both had stints with the Penguins – except a lower ceiling, one year younger, and a smaller cap hit. His slick mitts give him the potential to be a gamebreaker if a team doesn’t ask for too much.
  • Jonathan Marchessault: The 26-year-old carries just a $750K cap hit, and he’s at a fascinating fork in the road for his career. Vegas might want to keep him, but what kind of raise is coming? And what if a contender tight against the cap presents a war chest of assets for him, considering that cheap 2017-18 mark?

Lightning round

Alex Galchenyuk: Free Alex.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: Could the latest $6M Oilers forward be gone?

Jesse Puljujärvi: Would Peter Chiarelli and the Oilers really cut ties with another high draft pick?

Patrick Maroon, Ryan Strome: Two guys on expiring contracts. Bargain-hunting GMs might as well keep Chia on their speed dial, right?

Phil Kessel: Ugh, it’s irksome to mention, but it feels required. There’s at least some merit to the murmurs.

Rick Nash: See more on how Nash could fit into a mini-Rangers rebuild here. Nash is tantalizing, but the Rangers would need to find a way to make things work for a trade partner considering his Nash-sized cap hit.

Evander Kane: Has his issues, but he’s a power forward in his prime, and the 26-year-old seems like he’s playing at a high level. Manageable cap hit at $5.25M, especially since the trade deadline tends to make guys like him easier to get under the ceiling.

Gabriel Landeskog: Tough to imagine the Avalanche making such bold moves in succession, but then again, why not at least gauge the market? With four years remaining at about $5.57M per, it would require a major undertaking. What if Sakic offered to take, say, Ryan Callahan‘s problem deal on for Landeskog in exchange for a boatload of assets? Just saying.

[Sakic’s patience pays off in Duchene trade]

Gustav Nyquist, various Red Wings: Gotta pull off the rebuild Band-Aid sometime, right? Maybe?

Tyler Bozak, James van Riemsdyk: Two affordable Maple Leafs forwards who are likely to get lost in the shuffle when Auston Matthews & Co. burn through their rookie deals. JVR is a chronically underrated winger.

Patric Hornqvist: The scorer of the 2017 Stanley Cup-clinching goal is an old 30 considering all of his battles in front of the net. Maybe he’d go the other way if the Penguins wanted to make a move or a series of moves?

Tomas Plekanec, Thomas Vanek, etc.: There are a handful of aging, reasonably useful forwards on expiring deals. Imagine them all listed here; check Cap Friendly for even more options.

***

That’s quite the list, and some of those players are even worth trading for. Maybe Blue Jackets and Hurricanes fans can daydream about better days, too?

Feel free to add any names you believe are missing in the comments, emails, or via Twitter. You can even embrace the freedom to be more out-there than the idea of trading Tavares. Have fun.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

NHL Power Rankings: Kings climb to top spot

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When we last checked in with our Power Rankings we were trying to make sense of the early season standings, and in a lot of ways we still kind of are. The first month is a little crazy sometimes and this season is no exception (New Jersey in first place? Vegas with wins in eight of its first nine games? Edmonton stinks again?).

One of the more surprising results last time was the fast start by the Los Angeles Kings.

Two weeks later, it has not stopped.

What is perhaps most surprising about it is the fact they are currently seventh in the league in goals scored with largely the same roster that has been near the bottom of the league over the past couple of seasons. Also surprising: They have done it while getting just six games from Jeff Carter, one of their best, most consistent and most important offensive players.

Anze Kopitar, a seemingly reborn Dustin Brown and Adrian Kempe (already with six goals) are helping to pace the offense for a Kings team that is 9-1-1 to open the season.

They are the new top team in our Power Rankings.

Have a look at the rest of the rankings as we get ready to move into the second month of the NHL season.

1. Los Angeles Kings — It took Dustin Brown 24 games to record his 11th point last season. He has 11 in 11 games as of Monday.

2. Tampa Bay Lightning — Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos are the two most dominating offensive players in the NHL right now. It is still early, but it is very clear that the 2016-17 season was the fluke for the Lightning.

3. St. Louis Blues — Vladimir Tarasenko gets all of the headlines (rightfully so) but Jaden Schwartz has been the straw stirring the drink this season for the Blues. Where would they be without him?

4. New Jersey Devils — A trio of rookies (Nico Hischier, Will Butcher and Jesper Bratt) has the Devils at the top of the Metropolitan Division for the time being and gives their fans a lot of hope for the future.

5. Columbus Blue Jackets — The offense still probably has another level it can get to but Sergei Bobrovsky is following up his second Vezina Trophy with another stellar start to the season with a .938 save percentage.

6. Vegas Golden Knights — Is their success sustainable? Probably not! But it is a heck of a lot of fun to watch right now. We know they can win at home. Now we get to see what happens when they have to play a few road games.

7. Toronto Maple Leafs — Still the most exciting team in the league. They will score more than any team in the league … and they will give up more than just about anybody.

8. Ottawa Senators — If you are going to lose, lose in overtime when you can collect points and that is exactly what Ottawa has done this season. With only one regulation loss this season the Senators have managed to collect point in 10 of their first 11 games.

9. Vancouver Canucks — The Canucks were supposed to be one of the worst teams in the league, and given their roster they still might end up there when all is said and done. But with wins and five of their past six, including four in a row into Monday, they are one of the biggest surprises in the NHL so far.

10. New York Islanders — In his past four games heading into Monday John Tavares has seven goals and 10 total points, including a pair of hat tricks. Consider his slow start officially over.

11. Anaheim Ducks — If he stays healthy John Gibson can be a top-tier goaltender in the NHL for a long time. He has been downright dominant in his past five starts.

12. Pittsburgh Penguins — The Penguins still don’t look great, they still have some depth issues and they have won just one game in regulation in more than two weeks. They have been absolutely blown out three times this month. Not encouraging.

13. Chicago Blackhawks — After scoring 15 goals in their first two games the Blackhawks have managed to score only 23 in the 10 games that have followed. There were depth concerns at the start of the season. Maybe they are starting to show now.

14. Philadelphia Flyers — The Flyers wanted to see Sean Couturier take a step forward this season offensively and he has given them exactly that, averaging more than a point-per-game through the first 11. Put that production with his defensive game and you have one heck of a top-line center.

15. Winnipeg Jets — On paper this is still a pretty talented team that just needs to get some consistent goaltending. So far Conor Hellebuyck has given them that in his starts. How long that continues will determine how far the Jets are able to go this season.

16. Calgary Flames — This has the look of a breakout season for Johnny Gaudreau. Not only is he pacing the Flames with 15 points in 12 games but he is also sporting a dominating 55 percent Corsi mark. He is doing it all.

17. Minnesota Wild — The Wild are hanging around at the start of the season thanks to the stunning offensive performance of … *checks papers* … Chris Stewart? Well that is unexpected. After scoring just 13 goals in 79 games a year ago Stewart already has six in his first nine games this season. He has always been a streaky scorer and the Wild are getting one of those hot streaks at the right time.

18. Washington Capitals — It hasn’t been the offense that has been hurt by the offseason departures of Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams, it is the defense that has been the problem. Entering the week the Capitals are 26th in the league in goals against and 25th in shots against.

19. Nashville Predators — Pekka Rinne has been a question mark in recent seasons but so far this season he has been the Predators’ best, most valuable player. They somehow have six wins while getting just one combined goal from Ryan Johansen and P.K Subban.

20. Boston Bruins — With seven goals in his first nine games Brad Marchand has scored 83 goals since the start of the 2015-16 season. That is the fifth best mark in the NHL behind only Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko.

21. San Jose Sharks — After winning just three of their first four games the Sharks have won four out of their past six games, including a wildly successful five-game road trip.

22. Dallas Stars — So far this Stars season is going about as should have been expected. Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn are carrying the offense and everything else is just kind of … average. Against playoff teams from a year ago they are only 1-3-0 so far this season.

23. Carolina Hurricanes — Here is a story you have almost certainly heard before: Goaltending has been an early season problem in Carolina. In his first taste as an everyday starter Scott Darling has an .897 save percentage.

24. Colorado Avalanche — Another team that has been hit by a sharp dose of reality after an early season surge. That 7-0 loss to an expansion team is going to leave a mark.

25. Edmonton Oilers — They are still better than their record indicates but the lack of secondary scoring is going to be a real problem. Maybe trading Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle for Adam Larsson and Ryan Strome wasn’t the best idea.

26. Florida Panthers — They have four players at the top of the lineup all averaging a point-per-game but things are not going well defensively or in net where Roberto Luongo remains sidelined.

27. Detroit Red Wings — A fast start has quickly turned into disappointment thanks to a six-game losing streak. This is more of what should have been expected from this team.

28. Montreal Canadiens — It has been the perfect storm of chaos in Montreal so far this season. A bad start, some off ice drama, the captain has just three goals (zero assists) in his first 11 games.

29. New York Rangers — At this point it is not quite clear if the defense is still an issue or poor goaltending performances are still clouding things. Either way, the Rangers probably did not expect to be near the bottom of the standings at any point this season. This team should not be this bad.

30. Buffalo Sabres — Jason Pominville has played well in his return to Buffalo and Jack Eichel is great. Everything else is lousy.

31. Arizona Coyotes — You really do not need to say anything when you look at the standings to see 0-10-1.

McLellan critical of Oilers amid early-season struggles

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The Edmonton Oilers still have 72 games remaining on their schedule, which would give the impression that they have plenty of time to turn around what’s been a disappointing month of October and climb the Western Conference standings.

But after another loss, this time to the Washington Capitals on Saturday, head coach Todd McLellan expressed an urgency to his team, noting that their struggles, particularly on offense, can no longer be dismissed as a short-term issue that will simply correct itself with time.

“There’s nothing early about this. Let’s not kid ourselves,” McLellan told reporters after a 5-2 defeat to Washington, in which the Oilers built up an early two-goal lead and then faltered in the second and third periods.

“There’s a lot of points that have gone by and you never get them back. They have the same value now as they do at the end of the year. It’s tough falling behind in a game. It’s also tough falling behind in the season. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us and we’re going to have to play better than we have. We don’t have enough players playing at their capabilities — or at least what we believe their capabilities are — to consistently win.”

The biggest issue right now is scoring. Edmonton is 30th in the NHL averaging only 2.20 goals-for per game, and has been plagued by a lack of secondary scoring. Connor McDavid has 11 points and has contributed to 50 per cent of the Oilers goal totals so far.

With the Oilers struggling in that department, there was a report Saturday that the club is disappointed with the Ryan StromeJordan Eberle trade from this summer. That deal may have opened up available cap space for Edmonton to get Leon Draisaitl under contract with a hefty raise, but it also removed a player that was a proven scorer. Strome, now 24 years old, had one impressive season with the New York Islanders, but also endured up and down times there as well.

The Oilers are nearing the time when a decision must be made on right winger Kailer Yamamoto. The 19-year-old rookie has appeared in seven games with three assists, and is still eligible to be returned to junior at the nine-game threshold without using up the first year of his entry-level contract.

The Oilers also have 2016 fourth-overall pick Jesse Puljujarvi playing down in the American Hockey League. The 19-year-old right winger’s point total — three assists in seven games — is hardly overwhelming, but the 14 shots on goal he’s put up over the last two games would suggest he may be finding a bit of a groove down there and on the cusp breaking out in the goal column.

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Cam Tucker is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @CamTucker_Sport.