McDavid: If Campbell can start in Toronto, he can do it anywhere

Posted: 26/07/2022 in NHL
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Connor McDavid called to mind the classic “if I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere” line when asked whether new teammate Jack Campbell will benefit from going to another Canadian market after the netminder’s Toronto stint.

“If he can be the starting goalie for the Leafs, he can be the starting goalie anywhere,” McDavid told the media, including TSN, at a charity golf tournament in the Ontario capital Monday.

“Obviously, this is the hockey hotbed and there’s a tremendous amount of pressure on whoever fills that net,” the Edmonton Oilers superstar continued. “He’s occupied that job for the better part of two years and he’s done a great job doing it, so I’m sure he’ll transition smoothly.”

Campbell signed a five-year deal carrying a $5-million cap hit with the Oilers on July 13, the opening day of free agency. He hit the market after two-plus seasons with the Maple Leafs, who reportedly didn’t make him an offer after doing so early in the 2021-22 campaign.

The 30-year-old played well enough for stretches in Toronto, and his counting statistics reflected that as he went 48-12-8 with a .916 save percentage in 71 games over the last two seasons.

However, Campbell’s underlying numbers told a much different story, particularly in 2021-22. His minus-10.78 goals saved above expected at five-on-five this past season ranked 102nd out of 112 players at his position, and his minus-0.2 goals saved above average in those situations placed him 66th, according to Evolving Hockey.

Campbell also struggled in the Leafs’ first-round series loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning this spring, posting a .897 save percentage across seven contests – albeit against the two-time defending champions who ultimately reached a third straight Stanley Cup Final.

The Oilers will likely give Campbell a sizable workload next season given that Mike Smith may not play again and Mikko Koskinen signed in Europe. Edmonton made it to the Western Conference Final this year with the Smith-Koskinen tandem but the eventual champion Colorado Avalanche swept them in that series.

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