Ranking 27th in goals per game last year, New Jersey’s offense found the blame when evaluating why the Devils missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season. To combat the team’s lack of offense, the New Jersey Devils brought in forward Mike Cammalleri this summer.
Only scoring 2.4 goals a game, the defense and goaltenders found little to no room for errors. The defense held their own by posting a respectable 2.38 goals against per game last season, ranking 6th in the league.
Starting goalie Cory Schneider posted insane numbers despite the record he finished with last season of 16-15-12. Last year, out of all goalies who started at least half of their teams games, Cory Schneider posted 1.97 GAA along with a save percentage of .921. Tukka Rask and Johnathan Quick,finishing second and third in the category of GAA, end their years with records of 36-15-6 and 27-17-4 respectively.
One of the NHL’s best goalies and one of it’s top-tier defenses were denied a playoff spot since they were anchored to the league’s fourth weakest offense. Aimed to fix last year’s struggle, the Devils made a major move in securing forward Mike Cammalleri on the first day of Free Agency this summer.
Inked to a 5 year 25 million dollar deal on July 1st, New Jersey brought in one of the most prolific scorers this free agency market had to offer. Coming off a year where Cammalleri posted 26 goals and 19 assists, GM Lou Lamoriello identified him to be the scorer the Devils’ top line missed all year.
So who is Mike Cammalleri? The 5’9″ forward just finished his 11th season in the National Hockey League playing for the Calgary Flames. Cammalleri came up with the Los Angeles Kings during the 2002-03 season, and remained with the organization for 5 years. Cammalleri then took his talents to Calgary for one season, posting his career best numbers of 39 goals and 43 assists. The following season, Cammalleri found himself on his third team in three years when he played for the Canadians. He lasted 2 full seasons with Montreal, but in the middle of his third, was sent back to Calgary during the 2011-12 season, where he remained until this off-season.
More importantly on the mind of all Devils’ fans, is he answer to all of our prayers? Can he lead the Devils back to the playoffs by sparking their offense?
Mike Cammalleri is a well-known goal scorer throughout the league. Out of all the players who played at least 60 games last season, Cammalleri ranks 16th in goals per game with 0.41. Making matters even more impressive, Cammalleri was not helped by a team with a thriving offense. Calgary ranked 23nd in the NHL in goals per game with 2.42, but Cammalleri was still able to shine. None of the fifteen players before Cammalleri in goals per game, played for a team who struggled more to score than the Flames. Also his 0.41 goals per game is almost 0.1 higher than any member of the Devils roster last season, showing he can add an immediate effect.
It is no question that New Jersey’s offense faltered. However, what is interesting is that for a team who had such offensive struggles managed to finish 9th in the league when on the power play. Converting on 19.5% of their man advantages, the Devils real problem was when they played on at even strength. New Jersey posted the second worst total of 128 5v5 goals.
Out of Cammalleri’s 26 goals last season, 20 of them came while he played at even strength. Being able to net over 75% of his goals in 5v5 play, He can give New Jersey a scoring threat they did not have all last season when the team played at full strength. His 20 even strength goals would place him first among the Devils, one ahead of Jaromir Jagr‘s team leading 19.
Cammalleri has proved to fit the Devils’ needs perfectly. He can definitely put the puck in the back of the net, showing from his stellar goals per game average. Also he can help the Devils where they struggled the most on offense, at even strength, where Cammalleri was able to thrive.
Look for Cammalleri to find himself on the Devils’ top line matched with Jaromir Jagr and Travis Zajac. The line Cammalleri played on last season lead him to great success, but when he is placed with the Devils top duo next season, look for those numbers to only get better. Lou Lamoriello saw the need last year to add a top notch scorer to the pairing of Jagr and Zajac, and we should be happy it was Cammalleri.
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