The New Jersey Devils ranked 27th in the NHL in goals per game (2.4) last season, a key reason they missed the playoffs for the second straight year after a surprise run to the 2012 Stanley Cup finals.
And for years the Devils have had to steel themselves against a parade of top players fleeing the franchise, players like former captain Zach Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk (who walked right into a completely different league in Russia), Paul Martin and Brian Gionta, all of whom exited New Jersey without the Devils getting any return for those assets.
Tuesday, though, the Devils managed to land a good-sized fish in veteran goal-scorer Mike Cammalleri.
Now, the Devils had to overpay Cammalleri both in terms of money and contract length, giving the 32-year-old a five-year deal that will cost the them $5 million annually against the salary cap.
Still, it's a slight decrease from what Cammalleri was making in Calgary, and it’s a fact of life that until the Devils return to contender status it will cost them more to bring in outside free agents.
Cammalleri is an interesting guy and he’ll bring a little more pizzazz to a Devils’ room that also is home to another top character in Jaromir Jagr, who led the Devils with 24 goals and 67 points last season and is back for one more year.
The Devils also added Martin Havlat on Tuesday, signing the winger to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million.
Cammalleri had 26 goals in just 63 games last season for a rebuilding Flames, and there's nothing to suggest he can't replicate that production or even see those numbers jump with a Devils team that had the ninth-ranked power play in the NHL.
The Eastern Conference looks pretty fluid (read: mediocre) at this point, and if goalie Cory Schneider remains healthy there's no real reason New Jersey can't get back into the top eight and make the playoffs. If the Devils make the postseason, Cammalleri may truly earn his keep.
Although he hasn’t played in the postseason since 2011, in his last 26 playoff games with Montreal in 2010 and ’11, he collected an impressive 16 goals and 13 assists.
Welcome to Newark, Mr. Cammalleri.