The Los Angeles Kings swung a trade with the Edmonton Oilers that was consummated quickly, exchanging Michael Cammalleri for Jussi Jokinen. The vitals: Jokinen, 34, had one assist and two penalty minutes in 14 games with Edmonton. Cammalleri, 35, had three goals and seven points in 15 games with Los Angeles. With a $1.1-million cap hit on a contract that expires after this season, Jokinen costs $100K more than Cammalleri’s one-year deal, but financials aren’t paramount in this exchange.
So, why is this trade made? It’s still early, and the architects of the minor deal weren’t immediately available for comment. But in poking around with a number of different sources, all of whom insinuated that this happened quickly, the Kings essentially acquired a player who is a better fit for their bottom-six. Cammalleri admirably slotted in to such a role, but that type of slot isn’t really one that takes advantage of a skill set more geared towards offensive production.
Jokinen, meanwhile, wasn’t drawing rave reviews for his early season performance, but is a player capable of slotting in all three forward positions and is comfortable in a bottom-six-type role. Despite ranking second in the league with an average of 2.41 goals-against per game, Los Angeles’ checking and defensive play has been inconsistent this season. Counting scoring chances is subjective, but by Natural Stat Trick’s count, the Kings have yielded the sixth-most chances per 60 minutes and the fourth-most high danger chances per 60 minutes, and “puck management” is a term that has crept into the vernacular of players and coaches after recent games. No drastic change in chances and checking should be expected following this trade, but, again, Jokinen likely provides what the team believes to be a sturdier personnel structure in the way the bottom six is constructed. It will come at the expense of a player who has factored into the team’s power play while providing a specialist who has 36 career shootout goals, having converted 37.5% of his attempts.
Cammalleri was a low-risk, low-cost July 1 signing that added another option to an offensive group that entered the season looking to improve upon an output that tied for 24th in the league in scoring last season. The expectation was that he would play with skaters who would allow for him to create offense, but with Alex Iafallo’s emergence alongside Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown, and the team’s 3.17 goals-per game through the first six weeks of the season, there were unforeseen circumstances that affected where he slotted. He was scratched for the fourth and fifth games of the season, and in addition to his power play work, was skating more regularly at even strength with forwards Trevor Lewis and Brooks Laich, who are not in a top-six role. Ultimately, he skated only 9:49 of five-on-five time with Kopitar.
That then raises the natural question: did Cammalleri ask to be moved? Having asked a number of people, not all of whom responded, I haven’t heard that he did, and I haven’t heard that he did not.
In 905 regular-season games, Jokinen, a sixth round draft pick by Dallas in 2001, has 547 points (186-361=547), a plus-2 rating and 367 penalty minutes. He has appeared in 54 playoff games, totaling 32 points (17-15=32), a plus-10 rating and 20 penalty minutes.
-Lead photo via Andy Devlin/NHLI