Before last night’s game, Peter Chiarelli pulled the trigger on a trade, sending Jussi Jokinen to the Los Angeles Kings for Mike Cammalleri. Jokinen boasted strong underlying numbers and played a good defensive game, but simply wasn’t scoring and the Oilers needed a boost offensively. In comes Cammalleri who’s much more of a natural goal scorer than Jokinen.
Today’s What Would You Do Wednesday? question pertains to the newest Oiler. Where does Mike Cammalleri fit in Edmonton’s lineup? Cammalleri is a left-shooting forward who has played centre and both wings in his career. He simply doesn’t have the wheels to be a centre at this point, so he’ll slot in somewhere on the wings. But where?
As of right now, the Oilers are rolling with a top six that consists of the juggernaut Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Patrick Maroon trio and an effective second line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Milan Lucic, and the recently-called-up Jesse Puljujarvi. Both lines are performing well and the addition of Puljujarvi has added an element of speed to the second line.
Jokinen largely played on the third line right wing with Ryan Strome and and a revolving door of Drake Caggiula, Anton Slepyshev, and others on the left side. The bottom six has been in flux early on as injuries and poor performances have players bouncing in and out of the lineup and in different combinations.
As a result, the logical place for Cammalleri to slide in would be the third line next to Strome. The former fifth overall pick has struggled to produce offence so far as an Oiler, boasting just five even strength points in 18 games. A group of Strome, Caggiula, and Cammalleri certainly features enough skill to score at a reasonable level.
But what about using Cammalleri in a top six role? We’ve talked quite a bit recently about splitting apart Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. While the two form a lethal pair on the top line, Leon, as we saw in last year’s playoffs, is good enough to drive his own line. Having McDavid, Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins down the middle gives the team a lot of depth and Strome could be more effective offensively as a scoring winger.
Cammalleri certainly isn’t the player who consistently scored 20 goals and could also top 30 goals in a good season. Back then, he was a very effective forward that utilized both skill and speed to score at a top-line pace. The wheels aren’t there any more, but the shot and offensive hockey sense still is.
What say you, Nation? Could Cammalleri be the trigger man that knows how to get open for a McDavid pass? Can he be effective enough to let Draisaitl man his own line? Or is he better served playing in a sheltered depth role, helping Ryan Strome’s line produce at a higher level?
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