Have Cheap Defensemen become that Valuable?
So the Ottawa Senators just traded Dean McAmmond and a late first round pick for Mike Comrie and Chris Campoli. Mike Comrie is set to become an unrestricted free agent so for a team that won’t make the playoffs (though maybe Bryan Murray is dreaming otherwise), he presents very little value in return, let alone the fact that he really isn’t that good of a player anyway. He’s not good enough offensively (for the most part) to play on the top two lines, and too weak defensively and inconsistent to play on a third line checking role.
So in essence this trade almost comes down to a late first round pick for Chris Campoli. So, what can Campoli bring you? Not a lot to be honest. He has some skill with the puck, which the Senators do need, but on a good team the best you can expect is he will be a third pairing defenseman and maybe play on the second power play unit. There are a few teams in the NHL he may struggle to make the defense at all (San Jose, Detroit, and maybe even teams like Florida or Toronto when they are healthy). On the Islanders he played 19:49 per game which is less than Streit, Gervais, Meyer, Martinek, Sutton and Witt. Last year he played 19:09 which trailed Martinek, Witt and Gervais. So while the last place Islanders had a use for him, he was hardly a superior, irreplacable component of their defense.
So, have the Senators over paid for Campoli? Is Campoli’s greatest asset the fact he is signed for next season at $675,000? And if Campoli is really worth a first round pick, are other cheap, signed, 3rd pairing defensemen also worth a first round pick? I am not so sure. A similar defenseman to Campoli is Marc-Andre Bergeron, formerly of the Islanders and now of the Minnesota Wild. Like Campoli he is primarilly a puck moving defenseman who lacks size and is questionable defensively. A year ago (Feb 26, 2008) the Islanders traded Bergeron to the Ducks for a third round pick and last summer the Ducks traded him to the Wild for a third round pick. Yes, Campoli has a little cheaper of a contract, but is that (and whatever Comrie gives you this season) really worth bumping the third round pick to a first round pick? I am not so sure.
So, either the Senators vastly over paid for Campoli, or else cheap defensemen have suddenly become a highly sought after commodity. If so, expect Brian Burke’s phone to be ringing off the hook for a guy like Ian White (who is regularly playing 25+ minutes a game in all situations and is set to make just $950,000 next season (with just an $850,000 cap hit).