Ever since the departure of Curtis McElhinney via the waiver wire, Leafs fans had been clamouring for a reliable backup to help ease Frederik Andersen’s workload. With the likes of Garret Sparks, Michael Hutchinson, and Kasimir Kaskisuo among others not providing enough faith in management to give them anything more than the occasional start on back-to-backs, it reinforced the notion that it was either Andersen or nothing.
It came to a head during the 2019-20 season when Andersen had a down year and Hutchinson did not play well enough to minimize the damage. This is why Kyle Dubas decided to pull the trigger on a trade to bring in a new option as the backup in Jack Campbell. His stint with the Leafs has only barely begun but he’s won over a lot of fans not just with his interactions with the media and teammates, but with his on-ice performance.
That’s why Campbell’s number is 6.
It’s how many games Campbell has played for the Leafs since being acquired in the deal with the L.A. Kings, which led to a goalie controversy regarding whether he should have gotten more compared to Andersen. Talk about a shocking turn of events.
"I think I packed a pair of gym shorts and one pair of pants for the road trip so had to do a little shopping but I'm just so excited to be here." 😂
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) February 6, 2020
In his six appearances, Campbell posted a .915 SV%, a 2.63 GAA, and went 3-2-1. Combined with his numbers with the Kings (which were reasonably impressive considering the season they had), he had an 11-12-3 record while registering a .904 SV% and a 2.80 GAA. You might scoff at his record with the Leafs upon first glance and not think too highly of it. Consider the context of the two losses, in which Campbell allowed six goals on a combined 65 shots against to equal a .923 SV%. It’s hard to argue that he was not the reason why the Leafs lost those two games to the Sharks and Ducks.
Given the circumstances of what he had to play through for the majority of the 2019-20 campaign, Campbell performed relatively well. It looks better once you take a dive into some of his underlying metrics:
|xGA||HDSV%||HDGAA||MDSV%||MDGAA||Rush ATTA||Reboud ATTA|
All numbers are in all-situations
For context, his medium danger SV% and GAA ranked higher than the likes of Ben Bishop, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tuukka Rask, and McElhinney. Meaning that in most situations that goalies had to face, Campbell performed better than two of the Vezina Trophy finalists.
One major caveat in all this is the reality that Campbell’s brief stint with the Leafs is just that: brief. The worst thing one can do when analyzing his six starts is jumping to conclusions that he can, with 100% certainty, he can confidently overtake Andersen’s minutes. There’s no denying that he did well to start, but it’s important to see a bigger sample size from the 28-year-old. It’s because the addition of Aaron Dell provides the Leafs versatility at the position and gives them a security blanket should Campbell struggle. But if he were to succeed, then it helps his case for a contract extension and could help set him on the path towards more responsibility in the crease. Again, Dubas and management will need to see more from Campbell before reaching a decision on his future.
Entering the 2021 shortened season, the Leafs will take solace in the fact that there now is quality depth at the goalie position for the first time in years. Instead of being second on the netminder chain, Hutchinson sits fourth on the depth chart behind Dell and Campbell. This wouldn’t have been possible without the latter making an immediate impact upon being traded for and providing a calmness in the crease.
Oh my Jack Campbell 👀 pic.twitter.com/yyELmwby2c
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 7, 2020
He enters the final year of a two-year contract that pays him $1.65 million, so there will likely be an incentive for Campbell to try and up his game for the coming campaign. Not only is he trying to secure his spot on the team beyond 2021, but also hoping to increase the amount of money in his bank account. What also helps is the new additions on the defensive end that should make life easier for Campbell, given that the Leafs allowed the 12th most shots against in 2019-20. For a Leafs squad looking to redeem themselves after a tumultuous year, a motivated will surely help the cause.
With more games under his belt, we will get a better idea of what Campbell can provide the Leafs and definitively answer whether he is the answer as the backup. Beyond that, his performance in 2021 will help establish the future direction of his career in terms of where he plays and what role he provides.
All salary information is from PuckPedia.com.