The latest in a series on some of the top prospects of the Dallas Stars looks at goaltender Jack Campbell, who spent last season with the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League.
Campbell, in his first full professional season, played in 40 games for Texas, posting a 19-13-3 record, 2.65 goals against average and .905 save percentage.
The 21-year-old Campbell, Dallas’ first round pick (11th overall) in 2010, spent the first part of the season backing up veteran Cristopher Nilstorp in the AHL. But the end of the NHL lockout and then an injury to Nilstorp gave Campbell a chance to take the reins in Texas for a while and he was superb. In February, he posted a 6-2-1 record, 1.65 goals against average and .932 save percentage.
“Jack had a huge developmental year, a great positive step coming out of juniors,” said Dallas Stars goaltending coach Mike Valley. “He ran that stretch in February where he played almost every game, and I think that was a lot of confidence for him. His game has really started maturing. He’s playing a lot more controlled, he’s controlling himself more emotionally, too.”
Campbell did not see any action in Texas’ nine playoff games. He had a brief call-up to Dallas in March, but did not play.
“Campbell had a good season. He got in 40 games, which for the first year is good,” said Stars assistant GM Les Jackson. “I sense he is growing in his game. He had some bumps along the way, which a lot of players do. Jack is a very focused guy, he knows what he wants and he’s got a plan to get there. I sense you’ll see another step of growth in him next year.”
One of the challenges for Campbell has been learning to be patient with his development path. Another has been being a little less frenetic in goal. He’s made strides in both those areas since turning pro.
“Half of it is accepting that goalies take longer. You have to continue to get better every day, both physically and mentally,” Campbell said at one point last season. “The other half is you realize how good the NHL goalies really are. It’s no knock on those guys when your goal is to be up here sooner than later, but until you see them playing and practicing every day then it’s an eye-opener.
“You look at the best goalies in the league and they’re always so calm in their demeanor as well as their game. I am just trying to be relaxed and nice and calm and a leader on the team. Everything else takes care of itself if you do that.”
With the Stars re-signing Nilstorp to a one-year contract and then signing veteran Dan Ellis to a two-year deal to backup Kari Lehtonen, Campbell appears to be No. 4 on the Stars’ goaltending depth chart heading into next season. That means he’ll be battling for playing time in Texas again, and the Stars see that as a positive.
“It’s part of the process. Healthy competition is good,” said Stars GM Jim Nill. “It doesn’t mean we are brushing off his development. We’re very conscious that he needs to play, he needs to play a certain amount of games. But that can’t be given to him, he needs to earn it. We’ve talked to him. We’re conscious of where he is and he’s in a good spot. He’ll be just fine.”
-Patience paying off for Jack Campbell (3/19/13)
Jack Campbell 2012-13 statistics