LOS ANGELES — The Edmonton Oilers acquired centre Mike Cammalleri from the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday in exchange for forward Jussi Jokinen.
Cammalleri’s second career stint with the Kings lasted just 15 games. After signing a $1 million, one-year deal last summer to return to the club that drafted him in 2001, the 35-year-old veteran found himself stuck in a depth role early in the season, even sitting as a scratch for two games.
Cammalleri has three goals and four assists this season, his 15th NHL campaign. He has scored at least 19 goals in nine of those seasons.
Oilers head coach Todd McLellan hopes Cammalleri can provide a lift to Edmonton’s sputtering offence.
“He’s a shooter,” McLellan said. “Since he’s entered the league, the one thing he has is an incredible shot and a quick release.
“Given (our) lack of scoring, we think he can come in and use that shot. It’s not that we haven’t created opportunities, we just haven’t finished a lot of them. If we can continue to create and he happens to be the receiver of some of those passes, maybe we can get a little more offence out of him.”
Kings general manager Rob Blake declined to say whether Cammalleri requested a trade.
“I don’t think he enjoyed the role that he was in, by any means,” said Blake. “I won’t tell you a lot about our conversation, but what I will tell you is we came to the conclusion that it wasn’t going the direction he wanted it to.”
The 34-year-old Jokinen has one assist in 14 games with Edmonton this season after signing a one-year deal as a free agent in July. The steady veteran is joining his seventh NHL franchise with the Kings, who expect to use him as a depth forward with faceoff skills and a solid two-way game.
“He’s been a very reliable player over his career, and I think that will bring a little stability to our lineup,” Blake said. “He can do a lot of different things for us.”
The Pacific Division-leading Kings are off to a strong start despite the injury absences of goal-scoring veteran Marian Gaborik and top scorer Jeff Carter, who will be out for several months while recovering from a cut on his leg.
Captain Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown are enjoying remarkable bounce-back offensive seasons while skating on Los Angeles’ top line along with speedy rookie Alex Iafallo, who surprised the team by winning an NHL roster spot in training camp and keeping it with steady play. Iafallo’s emergence contributed directly to Cammalleri’s reduced role, Blake said.
Iafallo and fellow youngster Adrian Kempe have secured regular roles while the Kings are off to one of the Western Conference’s best starts even without Carter and Gaborik, who is back in practice during his recovery from a knee injury. Blake said he is hopeful Gaborik will return to the Los Angeles lineup by early December.
Cammalleri is returning to Alberta after two earlier stints with the Calgary Flames. He spent the past three seasons with New Jersey.
Cammalleri has 290 career goals and 330 assists over 855 NHL games.
“I was kind of shocked when I heard it,” said Oilers defencemand Oscar Klefbom. “I think it is going to be a good fit for our team. He is a good player and has a great shot. It’s going to be interesting to see what he can help us with here.”
Jokinen spent the last three seasons with the Florida Panthers. He has won two Olympic medals with Finland.