There’s nothing anyone likes more than using hindsight to poke at trades, right?! Right.
I could claim that I’m doing this to annoy FFT’s head honcho- alright, it delights me to know she’ll hate me talking about Rene Bourque- but let’s take a look at the one relatively big move that the Flames did this year, and whether it paid off for them now, or down the line.
The deal: On January 12th, the Calgary Flames traded Rene Bourque, Patrick Holland, and a 2nd round pick in the 2013 draft to the Montreal Canadiens for Mike Cammalleri, Karri Ramo, and a 5th round pick in the 2013 draft.
The reaction: This was a classic “change of scenery” deal for a couple of struggling players. Bourque and Cammalleri had both gotten off to slow starts with their respective teams. Cammalleri being moved wasn’t a surprise- he’d made comments about the Canadiens having a “losing mentality” that the team didn’t take well. There was some surprise from around the league that he’d been moved quickly, and some thought that the Habs could have done better in what they’d gotten for him.
The trade was endorsed by Flame for Thought at the time, and it’s easy to see why. As mentioned, Bourque had gotten off to a slow start, not producing what the team expected of him after back-to-back 27 goals seasons, where he was at times the best forward on the ice. Bringing back Mike Cammalleri- who had his best season as a Flame in the 08-09 season- was a move that fans and Flames would appreciate, as someone who was both familiar to the team AND had a history of production in a Flames uniform.
But there were some reasons for Flames fans to be pensive as well. In bringing back Cammalleri, the Flames were taking on a larger contract- Cammalleri makes $2 million more than Bourque, which is a risk for a cap-strapped team like Calgary. Trading a 2nd round pick for a lower pick in the 5th is likely to be inconsequential, but giving up any kind of prospect- even a middling one like Holland- wasn’t necessarily something the Flames should look to do. For the trade to work, the Flames needed to make the postseason.
Did it work? If the trade for Cammalleri was designed to be a move to put the Flames in the postseason- and that’s really the only lens under which that trade makes sense (adding salary, giving up a prospect) - then it didn’t work. The Flames missed the playoffs.
Production-wise, it did work out better for Calgary: Bourque had a measly 5 goals and 3 assists in 38 games for the Canadiens, and was a ghastly -16. Cammalleri had 11 goals and 9 assists in 28 games, spent a little time injured near the end of the season. So maybe they dealt Bourque at the right time, and the Canadiens will need Holland and the draft pick to come through to make the trade even out for them.
It may well end up that this trade is ultimately inconsequential to the fortunes of either the Flames or the Canadiens. It certainly didn’t do much for either team this year, as they both missed the postseason. If Cammalleri is a catalyst for a Flames team that will need him to be next year, then maybe the Flames can count it as a win. But with what we’ve seen so far, it’s hard to call this much more than a lateral move for Calgary- and possibly a step back, given that their cap situation is worse because of the acquisition.