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Photo Credit: © John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

What to expect from Jack Campbell this summer

It’s been a long, strange journey from that magical point a few years back when the Leafs seemingly had three capable backup goaltenders in McElhinney, Sparks, and Pickard to the decision to go with Sparks to the realization that Sparks is bad to Michael Hutchinson and his struggles, and finally back around to having a capable backup in Jack Campbell, a one time can’t miss goaltending prospect.

Campbell came in prior to the trade deadline and immediately calmed things down in the crease, at a time when Andersen was struggling, and the Leafs were quickly seeing their playoff aspirations evaporate. He picked up a few wins and won our hearts with his positive attitude. While anointing him a starting goaltender if Andersen struggles in the return to play might be a bit much, Campbell is the least scary Plan B the Leafs have had sitting on the bench in a long time.

By the numbers

All of 2019-20:

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Measure Value Rank (out of goaltenders who played 1000+ min)
SV% 0.904 44th (out of 58)
GSAA -4.16 40th
HDSV% 0.761 56th
xGA/60 2.35 10th
Rebounds/60 3.64 35th
data via naturalstattrick.com (All Situations)

Since Campbell joined the Leafs:

Measure Value Rank (out of goaltenders who played 240+ min)
SV% 0.915 22nd (out of 51)
GSAA 0.52 23rd
HDSV% 0.815 25th
xGA/60 2.57 19th
Rebounds/60 4.76 42nd
data via naturalstattrick.com (All Situations)

So the story with Campbell seems to be that he was facing a tougher workload in Toronto, but rose to the challenge, and in his small sample saw improvements in his save percentage. While the Kings have a better blueline than the Leafs, the Leafs have the far superior team, and whenever looking at the goaltending numbers context is key, and with Andersen also showing signs of a tougher workload, it’s important to recognize a lot of what needs to improve when it comes to keeping the puck out of the net comes from the skaters more than the goaltender.

What we’ve seen so far

Well, how much have we seen?

We saw this…

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That was pretty darn good and gave us a lot of hope. We’ve seen that Campbell has a great attitude and is an ideal teammate, probably a quality that is pretty important in a backup goaltender, and one that Cat Silverman spoke to in her article on Campbell a while back.

By the 2015-16 season, Campbell was splitting his time between the AHL and the ECHL. His 2015 appearance on Team USA at the World Championships was unremarkable, and he was passed by (ironically enough) by Hellebuyck as the team’s number one. He was dealt to the Kings in the summer of 2016 as a shell of his former playing self.

That was where Imoo came into the picture.

Imoo told InGoal that he knew the now 24-year-old Campbell would be a huge project, but the first thing he did was make hockey fun again for the young netminder.

“He was at the point,” Imoo said, “where things would start the moment he got to the rink on game day. He couldn’t relax with his teammates, he was so busy focusing on the game; by the time 5:00 rolled around, he was so wired up that the first goal against would unravel him.”

That’s the first thing fans will notice about Campbell when they watch him this season with the Ontario Reign. Where a bad goal used to mean the end of his night, he’s found the ability to shake it off this year.

How will he do against Columbus?

Well, in his entire time in the NHL, Campbell has faced the Blue Jackets exactly twice.

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In his appearance against them this season, with the Kings, he allowed three goals in an overtime loss. Two of those goals coming at even strength, the other on the power play. He had a .893 save percentage in that game.

Last season, he had a much better outing where he allowed one goal on 27 shots. Let’s get some of that Campbell in net.

In reality, it’s a very short series, and Andersen is unquestionably the Leafs guy. If we see Campbell, there is a good chance that things have gone wrong for the Leafs, so as much as we like Campbell, I hope he’s wearing a cap for the majority of the playoffs.

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If he does come in for Andersen, either due to illness or injury, Campbell should have us a lot more confident than any other backup option we’ve seen from the Leafs in the past decade.

Playoff Expectations

Like I said above, if the playoffs are going well, Campbell is probably just chillin’ for most of the games.

If we are seeing Campbell in games we’re probably dealing with issues beyond what can be helped by a backup goaltender, and while there is a trust that Campbell won’t make the Leafs worse, it would take an unprecedented hot streak for him be capable of carrying the Leafs on a playoff run.

Beyond this summer it will be nice to see Campbell continue to build on his success in Toronto.