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What to do About Michael Cammalleri

Michael Cammalleri was our best per-minute producer on the ice last year. The offense suffered severely without him leading some to think about what could have been had he stayed healthy. Is that even a realistic expectation at this point though?

Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Cammalleri is injury-prone.

Some people don't like that hyphenated word and some people don't understand why other people don't like it. When you have a problem area of your body, it's almost inarguable that it is more likely to be injured. But some people think that labeling an entire athletes body injury-prone is not fair. A player's style may lend himself to injury, but any player playing that style would have the same injury. I understand that point, but let me just point out this:

Season injury time missed
2009-10 knee 6 weeks
2010-11 shoulder month
2011-2012 cut on leg 2 weeks
2011-2012 upper body 9 games
2013-2014 hand 7 games
2013-2014 concussion 10 games
2014-2015 foot 4 games
2014-2015 neck 6 games

Wow that's a wide array of different injuries. And that's just what I could find on Daily Faceoff and Wikipedia. There were a litany of other illnesses, bumps, and bruises in that span. The point is that Cammalleri cannot be counted on to log more than 50 games a year and can be counted on to register less than 70. In fact, Cam hasn't registered 70 games played since the 2008-2009 season. Among players who have registered at least a shot per game, only 3 other players have accomplished that dubious feat. Scroll down the rest of that list and you will find that the vast majority of it is inhabited by mostly fringe NHLers who have been popping in and out of the league. Cammalleri is by far the best player in the top 10 of this list. The only really good NHL forward that's done that in 6/7 seasons is Evgeni Malkin. So Cammalleri may be considered either the "Most Injury-Prone Elite Player" or the "Best Injury-Prone Player" depending on with whom you'd like to compare him.

He is also a very consistent offensive producer in the games he does play, though. In each of the last 11 seasons he has registered 0.25 GC/G (Goales Created per Game)-- in other words, 1 goal created every 4 games. Only 5 other NHLers can say the same: Sidney Crosby, Pavel Datsyuk, Alex Ovechkin, Jason Spezza, and Joe Thorton. Now THAT is some good company. Now that is pulling from a rather small pool of elite players that have been playing for 11 seasons. So let's just look at the last 3 years. Cammalleri is 30th among forwards and 31st overall (Karlsson always messes up these stats) in goals created per game over the last 3 years. In other words, in his age 31-33 seasons, he has been good enough to be the best forward on an NHL team. That really is great production.

He's also old. Very old for a highly productive forward. Last year, Cammalleri had 0.34 goals created per game in his age-33 season. This is the list of 33-or-older players who were able to accomplish that over 10+ games last year. For those who were too lazy to click that link, only Datsyuk and Cammalleri made the list.

So he is a top-flight NHL forward who is in even more elite company when you consider his age, but cannot stay healthy and is unlikely to do so more as he ages. But here's the thing -- he's on the hook for $5 million a year through 2019 (3 more seasons). Remember that this is not a Shero guy. Cam is one of the most significant investments that Shero inherited. Cammalleri is demonstrably not part of our long-term future, but is integral to our present and near future.

So the title here may be misleading. It's not reasonable to answer the question "What to we do about Cam" because there is not much to do in the present. He is the rare elite player without a no movement/trade clause so we could deal him. He has a NTC so, with permission from Cam, a team that is on the cusp of contending would easily pay $5 mil for 3 years for an elite point producer. However, until we know what this team is next year or the year after, we can't say that we won't be that contender. A top level guy like him is going to be locked in until the last year of his contract.

Your Thoughts

Is a trade on your radar? Is he too important to use to bring in a haul of assets? Are you beginning to think this signing was a little to much to take on? Do you believe Cam is an elite scorer when healthy? Do you believe he can stay healthy? Leave your thoughts below.