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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.