Jack Campbell has been an excellent goalie for the Toronto Maple Leafs since they acquired him on February 5th, 2020. We’ve already covered his successes, and his failures, as a Maple Leafs’ goalie.
Is Campbell the Top Free-Agent Goalie This Offseason?
Now the Maple Leafs find themselves in a position where the odds are they’ll lose Campbell to free agency. In an article written on January 27, 2022, Chris Wassel of nhlrumors.com picked Campbell as the top number one free agent goalie available this summer over Darcy Kuemper and Marc-Andre Fleury.
We’re seeing estimates of a $5 million contract over four or five years bandied about as the potential cost to sign Campbell as a UFA. This is most likely not a sum that the Maple Leafs would, or could, afford.
Not Long Ago, No One Knew Who Jack Campbell Was
We can’t forget that when the Maple Leafs acquired Jack Campbell just over two years ago he was not considered invaluable to any NHL team. He was simply Jonathon Quick’s backup.
After being drafted a decade previously, Campbell had played a total of 58 NHL games in the ten years since. Four years prior to the Maple Leafs acquiring Campbell, he was playing in the East Coast League, a step below the American Hockey League.
These comments are not meant to disparage Campbell in any way. He has, as we previously mentioned, played great for the Maple Leafs. Our purpose is to remind people that, until Campbell landed in Toronto, the majority of Maple Leafs’ fans, heck, the majority of NHL fans anywhere, did not have a clue who Campbell even was.
In 77 regular-season games and 14 playoff games, Campbell has seemingly gone from being “Jack Who?” to being seen as an essential part of a team that’s trying to take that next agonizing leap in its development.
It’s Probably Time to Cut the Strings
Rather than worrying about whether the Maple Leafs should potentially overpay a goalie who could just as easily return to being “Jack Who?” next season as he is to become their savior, maybe we should be asking “Is there another Jack Campbell out there somewhere?”
Related: Vladislav Tretiak: Goaltending Guru
Is there a backup goalie for another team out there who could potentially do what Campbell has done for the Maple Leafs?
Two possible replacements for Campbell have been mentioned by the readers on this site.
Replacement One: Ville Husso
Ville Husso is a 27-year-old goalie from Finland who is coming off of a two-year, $750,000 contract with the St. Louis Blues. He’s also an unrestricted free agent (UFA). Husso played 40 games in this past regular season for the Blues, posting a 25-7-6 record, a 0.919 save percentage, and a goals-against-average of 2.56.
He’s struggled in four games played for the Blues in the playoffs, going 1-3 with a 0.891 save percentage and a 3.38 goals-against average. With Jordan Binnington ruled out after a collision with none other than Nazem Kadri last night, we’ll see how Husso does for the rest of the series. However, he might be available.
Replacement Two: Casey DeSmith
Casey DeSmith is an undrafted 30-year-old from Rochester, New Hampshire. He’s played 96 games in the past four seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins, sporting a 43-28-11 record, a 0.915 save percentage, and a 2.67 goals-against average. DeSmith’s expiring contract pays him $1.25 Million per season.
Both these goalies (even together, if you wished) would undoubtedly cost the Maple Leafs a lot less than Campbell would. Both might also relish the opportunity to play a season or two in a market like Toronto, and ride that into a nice big contract similar to the one Campbell will likely get this coming summer.
There Might Be Other Backups Out There Who Could Become a Solid Starter
Husso and DeSmith are but two potential candidates who could come in and fill Campbell’s skates. There might also be others out there who are just as available and just as worthy.
Related: 7 Cool Things About Carey Price
Is there anyone our readers think could fill the role? If so, let us know.
[Note: I want to thank long-time Maple Leafs’ fan Stan Smith for collaborating with me on this post. Stan’s Facebook profile can be found here.]
The Old Prof (Jim Parsons, Sr.) taught for more than 40 years in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. He’s a Canadian boy, who has two degrees from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate from the University of Texas. He is now retired on Vancouver Island, where he lives with his family. His hobbies include playing with his hockey cards and simply being a sports fan – hockey, the Toronto Raptors, and CFL football (thinks Ricky Ray personifies how a professional athlete should act).
If you wonder why he doesn’t use his real name, it’s because his son – who’s also Jim Parsons – wrote for The Hockey Writers first and asked Jim Sr. to use another name so readers wouldn’t confuse their work.
Because Jim Sr. had worked in China, he adopted the Mandarin word for teacher (老師). The first character lǎo (老) means “old,” and the second character shī (師) means “teacher.” The literal translation of lǎoshī is “old teacher.” That became his pen name. Today, other than writing for The Hockey Writers, he teaches graduate students research design at several Canadian universities.
He looks forward to sharing his insights about the Toronto Maple Leafs and about how sports engages life more fully. His Twitter address is https://twitter.com/TheOldProf