Forward Michael Cammalleri's NHL career came full circle Saturday when he signed a one-year contract with the Los Angeles Kings, returning to where he played from his debut in 2002 through 2007-08.
Cammalleri, who has a $1 million salary plus bonuses, became an unrestricted free agent after the New Jersey Devils bought out the final two years of his contract Friday. He gives the Kings something they were seeking: a proven goal-scorer who has 613 points (287 goals, 326 assists) in 840 NHL games.
"It's exciting for a lot of different reasons," Cammalleri said Saturday. "There's something maybe romantic about going back to a place where you started your career. There's so much familiarity with the place, the team, the people that are involved in the team.
"The guys running the team now are guys that I played with as teammates. That opened the line of communication fairly easily and efficiently."
The Kings believe a healthy Cammalleri, 35, can help jump-start an offense that has struggled to score consistently the past few seasons. General manager Rob Blake was a teammate of Cammalleri's in Los Angeles in 2006-07 and said he thinks he still has a lot to contribute.
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"What I expect is scoring," Blake said Saturday. "That's one thing Mike has been able to do throughout his career. It's one thing he does a lot. The opportunity here -- just knowing where we are with our team -- and understanding the space we had available and what was out there in free agency.
"The scoring need we were looking for, Mike gives us an opportunity at that. He's familiar with [Anze] Kopitar. He's familiar with Dustin Brown. He's got some ties."
The Kings also made a serious pitch to center Joe Thornton, who reportedly will remain with the San Jose Sharks. Blake and Thornton were teammates in San Jose from 2008-10.
Was it surreal for Blake to be negotiating with former teammates?
"It makes it easy because I just talk directly to them," Blake said with a laugh. "That part is a little different. You won't see that too often anymore because I'm starting to get away from the game a little longer."
Video: Michael Cammalleri on joining the Los Angeles Kings
When Cammalleri signed his five-year, $25 million contract with New Jersey, he was coming off a 26-goal season with the Calgary Flames in 2013-14. Cammalleri got off to a good start with the Devils with 27 goals in 2014-15. But injuries, a coaching change and an organizational shift to a younger team led to the Devils buying out his contract.
Cammalleri could end up playing with Kopitar on the top line. Kopitar's on-again, off-again linemate, Marian Gaborik, probably isn't going to be ready to start the season because of injury.
Cammalleri has had his own injury problems since leaving Los Angeles. He hasn't played more than 68 games in a season since 2008-09, when he set NHL career-highs in goals (39) and points (82) in 81 games for the Flames.
"I think I can be objective and I feel strongly about my abilities and that I can be very effective and productive," Cammalleri said. "I feel great physically and I don't see any issue with any of that."
The main issue now for Cammalleri is figuring out the logistics of the cross-country move for his family. He and his wife have three young children, including a 2-month-old son.
"That's going to be the biggest challenge," Cammalleri said. "I'm going to have to get out to [New] Jersey, put the house up for sale and get the movers in, and find a place in [Los Angeles] and move everything there.
"It's going to be an interesting two months."