Kings Sign Michael Cammalleri and Darcy Kuemper

The Los Angeles Kings have signed winger Michael Cammalleri to a one-year, $1 million contract (plus bonuses), as reported by Helene Elliott of the LA Times. The Kings have also signed goaltender Darcy Kuemper to a one-year contract worth $650,000, per the team’s official Twitter account.

Cammalleri Rejoins Kings

Cammalleri, 35, had just had his contract bought out by his previous team, the New Jersey Devils. While still a reasonably productive offensive player when healthy, Cammalleri’s average annual value (AAV) of $5 million for two more years was too much. The Kings now have him for a much more affordable price.

The veteran winger actually began his career with the Kings. Los Angeles drafted him in the second round (49th overall) in 2001, and he made his debut during the 2002-03 season. While undersized at 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, Cammalleri has enjoyed a successful career as a consistent scoring threat—when healthy. He did have somewhat of a down year in 2016-17 with the Devils, tallying just 31 points (10 goals and 21 assists) in 61 games. The year prior, however, he had 38 points (including 14 goals) in just 42 games.

Mike Cammalleri, NHL, Fantasy Hockey, New Jersey Devils
Mike Cammalleri is joining the Kings, his original NHL team. (Jim O’Connor-USA TODAY Sports)

Cammalleri once hit the 80-point mark with the Kings back in 2006-07 (34 goals, 46 assists). He did so again with the Calgary Flames two years later (39 goals, 43 assists), but he has been unable to stay healthy enough to come close to those types of numbers again. After notching 26 goals and 50 points in 65 games for the Montreal Canadiens in 2009-10, Cammalleri has yet to reach the 50-point threshold since then.

Cammalleri’s production, or lack thereof, last year can largely be attributed to an anomaly of a season that saw him shoot at a rate of 7.0 percent—over five percentage points below his career shooting percentage. With a little more luck and playing on a presumably more competitive team, Cammalleri should see a spike in his numbers. The only real concern, again, is his health.

At such a minimal cost, Cammalleri’s signing is a low-risk, high-reward move for the Kings. He could very well see time on Anze Kopitar’s wing and give the anemic Kings a much-needed scoring boost. Cammalleri’s possession metrics from last season were mediocre but no worse than the Devils’ team as a whole. Since the Kings are usually a strong possession team, Cammalleri should not hurt them in that regard and will give them someone with finishing ability.

Kuemper Inks Deal With Kings

A slightly more under-the-radar signing the Kings made on Saturday was that of Kuemper, a 27-year-old goaltender who figures to be Jonathan Quick’s backup. That was a necessary slot to fill after the team traded Ben Bishop’s expiring contract and rights to the Dallas Stars at the conclusion of the regular season.

Darcy Kuemper has signed with the Kings and will likely be Jonathan Quick’s backup. (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

Kuemper had spent his entire career, which started in the 2012-13 season, with the Minnesota Wild. He had some solid moments with the Wild but struggled mightily this past season. In 18 games, his goals-against average was an ugly 3.31 while his save percentage was a paltry .902. In particular, he has struggled the past couple of season with low-danger shots against, which is an alarming sign.

In any event, the Kings’ signing of Kuemper was also a very low-risk move given the one-year term and AAV of only $650,000. The hope for them is that the still-young Kuemper can rediscover the form from his earlier years that made him a reliable backup in Minnesota. If so, then the Kings will have a bargain.