Fantasy Take: Mike Cammalleri Returns to Los Angeles

by Michael Clifford on July 1, 2017

Depth scoring has been something that Los Angeles has been missing for a couple of years now (probably longer). Marian Gaborik can’t stay healthy, Dustin Brown is a bottom-six player now, and no one else has really worked out. The Kings have started to address this issue by signing recent buyout Mike Cammalleri:

Cammalleri had 10 goals and 31 points in 61 games last year, and turned 35 years old in June. He returns to the team that drafted him back in 2001.

The 51 goals that Cammalleri scored over his last three seasons doesn’t really tell the whole story. Over those three years in New Jersey, he played on a team that was last in goals scored per 60 minutes of five-on-five, 17th in goals per 60 minutes on the power play, and last in goals scored per 60 minutes in all situations. Despite playing on the worst offensive team in the NHL, the winger still scored at a rate similar to guys like Johnny Gaudreau, Jeff Carter, Wayne Simmonds, and Jakob Silfverberg at five-on-five, and at a similar rate to guys like Phil Kessel, Blake Wheeler, and Matt Duchene in all situations. It’s clear this guy can still score, and did so on an abysmal offensive team.

Hanging over his head, though, is his inability to stay healthy. He has not topped 70 games in a season since 2008-2009, and played just 234 out of 328 regular season games since the lockout seasons. That’s an average of 23.5 games per season out of the lineup for four straight years. His ability to contribute consistently in fantasy leagues is related to whether or not he can stay on the ice.

Fantasy Impact

Though he managed 40 assists in 2016-17, that mark was the lowest that Anze Kopitar posted in an 82-game season since 2008-2009, and the second-lowest of his career. On a per minute basis, his assist rate at five-on-five was cut by about one-third from 2015-16 to 2016-17. Assuming the line of Tanner Pearson, Jeff Carter, and Tyler Toffoli stay together, it makes sense that Cammalleri joins Kopitar on the top trio. That should help Kopitar’s assist totals, at least when Cammalleri’s in the lineup.

Los Angeles had a problem generating scoring chances, but hopefully that changes under the new coaching regime. Even if the Toronto native isn’t the player he was five years ago, he’s an improvement offensively for this team. In a healthy-ish season, Cammalleri should be good for 20 goals and 40 points. It may depend on his power-play allocation, but what that will be is just guesswork for now.

The big question is who this will push out of the top-six. Marian Gaborik doesn’t look like he’ll be ready for the start of the season (at least training camp), so that’s one less name to worry about. Do the Kings move Adrian Kempe on that top line and move him to the right side, or is it Dustin Brown? Cammalleri can play both sides, but if he plays on the left side again in Los Angeles, with Pearson already there, it would probably push Kempe down to the bottom-six. For now, this would hurt Kempe’s short-term fantasy value.

This is a good, cheap signing by the Kings, even if they only get 60 games from Cammalleri. He can be a productive fantasy asset, but needs to stay in the lineup. Thankfully, he should be cheap at the draft tables when draft season rolls around.