Countdown 2: No. 1 Player To Watch; Brian Campbell
Thursday, 10.13.2011 / 5:30 PM ET
|Defenseman Brian Campbell has posted 40-plus points in four seasons during his 11-year career including a career-high 62 split between Buffalo and San Jose during the 2007-08 season.|
After another finish out of contention during the 2010-11 regular season, the Florida Panthers were on the lookout for a turning point this offseason. On draft night in Minnesota, GM Dale Tallon found one in a familiar face – Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell. Tallon convinced Campbell to waive his no-trade clause to come to the Panthers, after explaining his plan to recreate his masterpiece in Chicago, which resulted in a Stanley Cup, here in South Florida.
“He brings us credibility,” Tallon said in an interview after the trade.
Tallon, himself, may not have known how right he was, as the move started a general migration of players to hockey’s most Southern market. Next on board was another Blackhawk – Tomas Kopecky, who was quickly signed by Tallon after the Panthers acquired his negotiating rights.
Then came the much talked about free agency haul that brought the Panthers into the South Florida spotlight for perhaps the first time since the glory days of 1996.
But it was the trade for Campbell that got the process started, and it is just one of the many reasons that he is the number one player to watch this season on our countdown.
A former sixth-round (156th overall) draft selection in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, Campbell is the definition of a late-round gem. He spent eight seasons trying to establish himself as a contributor at the NHL level, before bursting onto the scene in 2005-06 with the Buffalo Sabres. That year he racked up 44 points, before improving to 48 points the next season. On pace to smash that pace in 2007-08, with 43 points in 63 games, the Sabres dealt Campbell to San Jose at the trade deadline, where he scored a whopping 19 points in 20 regular season contests, and 7 points in 13 playoff games. The next year, Tallon signed Campbell to a long-term contract in Chicago, and Campbell justified the decision with a 52-point regular season, and 10 point playoff campaign.
Campbell enjoyed a successful run in Chicago, including the championship season in 2009-10.
It’s really no wonder why Tallon chose “Soupy” as the main piece to help turn around the franchise. Championship teams are made up of championship players.
Campbell fits the bill perfectly.
BY THE NUMBERS
2 - Posted two assists in his first game as a Panther on October 8 as he set up Stephen Weiss and Jason Garrison for first period tallies.
6 - Finished with a career-low (for playing more than 40 games) six penalty minutes last season with Chicago.
12 - Netted career-high 12 goals during the 2005-06 season with Buffalo. Had a career-high five game-winners during that campaign.
53 - Entered 2011-12 season with Florida with a plus-53 rating. Has finished with plus-28 in two seperate seasons (2006-07, 2010-11)
62 - Registered a career-high 62 points split between Buffalo (43 points) and San Jose (19 points) during the 2007-08 season.