Jack Campbell, U.S. NTDP (USHL)
Born: January 9, 1992 in Port Huron, Michigan
Scouting report: A near-perfect package of size, athleticism, skill, mental toughness and a winning pedigree in net; the best goaltender available in the draft with a very high ceiling.
Strengths: Long-limbed, sizeable frame-- takes up a lot of space in net. Quick and athletic; squares up to the shooter and recovers fast. Good reflexes and a speedy glove and blocker. When on top of his game, technically sound and very calm and poised; doesn't get rattled and oozes confidence. Acrobatic; even when caught out of position never gives up on the play and will find a way to steal a save when the puck should be in the net. Wins every big game on the most suffocating of world stages as if it were routine for him. Can start and finish a game strong, or come in cold off the bench to win the most important game of his young career. Adept at handling the puck and making hard, accurate outlet passes to the defense to spring the breakout play. Works extremely hard and is always there for his teammates if they need him to stay late in practice to face extra shots. Polished, mature prospect already at age 18; very responsible and cognizant of his responsibilities on and off the ice. When he de-committed from the University of Michigan in lieu of the OHL and Windsor Spitfires, he refused to break the news over the phone, driving over to the campus and meeting Coach Red Berenson and staff personally to inform them of his decision. A leader by example who asks nothing of anyone he's not willing to do himself. Committed to being a pro hockey player; will benefit from better competition in the OHL next season and potentially beyond.
Weaknesses: Must continue to work on getting stronger/adding mass to his lean build. Can be susceptible to high traffic and power forwards who crash his net. When off his game, has a tendency to swim on the ice a lot and play a helter-skelter style instead of his normal smooth, compact, economy of motion movements.
Style compares to: Ryan Miller
Draft prediction: Sixth overall to Tampa Bay. In the first real surprise of the draft, new GM Steve Yzerman (in an interesting quirk of fate- he also happens to be Campbell's all-time favorite NHL player) finds a potential franchise cornerstone in net for the moribund Lightning, who haven't been competitive since losing Nikolai Khabibulin to free agency. Campbell is projected to go lower in the draft by most, but here's by B2010DW thinks he could go as high as six: He's talented, a proven winner, has tremendous character and-- by virtue of his opting for the OHL after his draft year, he won't be beholden to the two-year make an NHL roster or return to junior rule. If Campbell goes in at 18 and dominates with Windsor, Tampa can sign him at 19 next year and put him into their system right away. That's the kind of appeal that makes teams more apt to gamble a bit, even with a position that traditionally is the biggest crapshoot of all when evaluating 18-year-olds. Goaltending is an obvious need that Tampa has, but in Campbell, they're getting a high-end player who could contribute sooner than anticipated, given that there isn't much in front of him in the organization. You have to believe that if Campbell came off as well with the Lightning brass as he did with what I'm hearing about from others, then they'll seriously consider jumping up to take him. Now, on the flipside, the last U.S. goalie to win gold at the World Jrs. was a failed top-10 draft pick in Al Montoya, so there is some reason for pause here. That said, Montoya was nowhere near as accomplished at the same age as Campbell is, and didn't have Campbell's maturity and professionalism. If he doesn't go to Tampa, Atlanta is another team that may have significant interest. Other players of interest to Tampa here: Alexander Burmistrov, Jeff Skinner, Derek Forbort, Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter.
Projection: No. 1 netminder and future NHL All-Star. Every once in a while you come across a player who just seems to have "it" and Campbell is one of those. His coaches and teammates rave about his talent and attitude, opponents can't seem to figure out how to beat him at crunch time and NHL teams outside of the top-five are undoubtedly agonizing about whether to accept risk on such a wildcard position because the payoff is so potentially high with this kid. The only goaltender in the history of the World Jr. (under-20) tourney to backstop his team to a gold medal at 17 has an almost limitless potential, and the scary thing is, that on a deep team like Windsor, he has the potential to set the bar even higher. He'll face a lot of pressure next season, however. Taylor Hall will be gone, along with other key veterans like Greg Nemisz, Adam Henrique and Dale Mitchell. Skilled German forward Tom Kuhnhackl will help to offset the losses of veteran forward personnel, but expectations for Campbell will be sky-high. If he answers the bell then look for him to take that next step to the pro ranks rapidly rather than keeping him down in junior where he isn't challenged.
Background: Parents are Jack and Debbi Campbell; has one sister, Casey. Cites his cousin, Marshall Campbell, a former high school goalie who went on to be a football player at Michigan State, as his biggest influence in playing the position. A graduate of the prestigious Honeybaked AAA organization (midget major), where he posted a 1.98 GAA and .929 save percentage in going 28-6-3 before joing the NTDP in 08-09. Honeybaked teammates included current Under-18 forward Bryan Rust. Competed against teammates Jason Zucker and Luke Moffatt, who skated for rival Detroit Compuware.Posted 4-0 record with 0.75 GAA and .967 save percentage in 2009 World Under-18 Championship in Fargo, N.D. Backstopped Team USA World Jr. (under-20) team to gold in Saskatoon making 32 of 34 stops after coming into the game in relief of starter Mike Lee. After losing the opening game of the 2010 World Under-18 Championship round robin in Belarus to Sweden (4-2), went a perfect 5-0, finishing the tourney with a 5-1 record, three shutouts and a .965 save percentage. Will spend the 10-11 campaign in the OHL with the two-time defending Memorial Cup champion Windsor Spitfires. Favorite NHL team growing up: Detroit Red Wings Favorite NHL players growing up: Steve Yzerman, Marty Turco
"I was in Fargo to do one thing -- win a gold medal. If that meant sitting the bench and being a good teammate then that is what I was going to do. However, I had the opportunity to play early in the tournament and everything went well, so when the time came and the team needed me to step up I was ready."- Jack Campbell to theWolverine.com; April, 2009
"My goal is to be playing in the National Hockey League within a year or two, and I did not want to put Michigan's hockey program in a bad position where I left after one season. By going to the Ontario Hockey League, I feel it will accelerate my development so I will be able to more quickly achieve my goal of being an NHL goaltender."- Jack Campbell to Michigan rivals.com via Western College Hockey blog; November, 2009
"The one thing that has really impressed me is the fact I've never seen a goalie his age, even on the AHL level, who handles the puck as responsibly as he does. He just has a feel for the game. He's no Marty Brodeur, mind you, but he makes decisions with the puck that'll never hurt the team."- USA Under-18 coach Kurt Kleinendorst to NHL.com; November, 2009
"He's a good-size goalie that plays big in the net. He's your typical butterfly-style goalie, but he keeps his body upright, which is still covering a lot of the net. His angles are good and he's always square to the shooter. His movements are very controlled. He has good quickness in his reactions and recoveries. He's a little bit of a laid-back type of goalie so he doesn't beat himself. He's got a good glove hand. He's got good size, doesn't beat himself, his positioning is very good, great butterfly style -- a blocking-style goalie. Good quickness in recovery, but he's not all over the place. He'll make the saves."- Central Scouting scout and former NHL netminder Al Jensen to NHL.com; November, 2009
“Practicing with him and then being on the ice with him and seeing (Jack) in action, you figure out pretty quick that he’s just an amazing goalie. But, he’s just such a great guy, too. He works so hard in everything he does and I think that inspires everyone else to give nothing less than a total effort out there.”- Connor Brickley to New England Hockey Journal; April, 2010
“I was 7-years-old and my favorite position was goalie. At the time, I was a center and put up a lot of points in my house league. My dad, uncle and coach all encouraged me to be a forward, but I bawled my eyes out and stormed out of a meeting, declaring that I was going to be a goalie. That pretty much settled it.”- Jack Campbell to New England Hockey Journal; June, 2010
A longshot, but B's should eye Campbell