The Toronto Maple Leafs finally found a reliable backup, with their acquisition of Jack Campbell.
On February 5, 2020, after a few seasons of failed attempts in finding a suitable backup goaltender to support Frederik Andersen, the Toronto Maple Leafs acquired Jack Campbell in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings.
Before the start of the 2018-19 season, a 35-year-old McElhinny was put on waivers, to make room for a 25-year-old Garret Sparks to have his shot. Sparks earned an 8-9-1 record with a 3.15 goals against average that year, prompting another change between their pipes.
Of the numerous netminders that made their way into Toronto’s lineup over the past three seasons, Michael Hutchinson had his fair share of opportunity. His cumulative record of 6-12-1 and a save percentage less than .900 wouldn’t do him any favours, though.
Back to the Drawing Board
This was a franchise that management built to win now. They needed everything to align in that manner, including what to expect from the fraction of games a backup goalie would get into.
Most Toronto Maple Leafs fans wouldn’t have known much about the 28-year-old Campbell, as he wasn’t necessarily a household name from being the backup to Jonathan Quick. Playing on the west coast meant viewers on the east wouldn’t see him much either.
In his five years in this league thus far, Campbell only ever got into one match-up against the Maple Leafs. It was back on October 15, 2018, when LA lost to Toronto by a score of 4-1.
His numbers weren’t great that game, so if that was going to be used as a reference for what to expect of his play then fans could be understandably skeptical. However, there’s more to look forward to than that.
Shining Bright Through Limited Exposure
After one game with the Dallas Stars in the 2013-14 season, Campbell found himself suiting up behind Quick throughout 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19, and 2019-20. Coupling injuries to their starter and lack of team success, his number of opportunities began to increase.
Yet, Campbell was able to accumulate a record of 10-14-1, with a .928 save percentage, 2.30 goals against average, and two shutouts. It might not seem impressive when aligned with the team’s results, but digging deeper tells a different story.
Amongst goalies that played in 30 games or more that year, Campbell ended the season in 3rd overall in save percentage and 5th best for goals against average. On a roster that ranked 30th, those stats are even harder to ignore.
The Kings had another tough year throughout 2019-20, finishing in 28th place. While still backing up that team, Campbell was able to put up relatively decent numbers with a record of 8-10-2.
Joining a Toronto Maple Leafs organization more readily positioned for success greater than his previous teams were, Campbell was able to cap off his 2019-20 campaign with a better ending than its start.
What to Expect Next
Campbell earned a 3-2-1 record, .915 save percentage, and 2.63 goals against average in a Maple Leafs uniform. Although a six-game sample size isn’t much of one, it illustrates a more positive trend in their backup role than Toronto has become accustomed to in recent years.
When you take into account what Campbell has been able to accomplish on losing teams, and how his numbers compare to past Maple Leafs playing his position, he has quickly begun to prove he’s here to help.
If the Toronto Maple Leafs can count on Campbell to step in and perform the way he’s shown that he can throughout 20-25 games next year, everyone involved will benefit.
Andersen can stay primed throughout a lesser workload, the team can rest assured with confidence no matter who’s in net, management can focus on things beyond the backup discussion, and Campbell can continue to progress his play.
It’s not yet known what he will be worth to this franchise throughout their future, but his acquisition was certainly a welcomed one for this fanbase as it became a success story from this past season.
Jack Campbell has already displayed his abilities in this league, now the Maple Leafs just need to let him do so for Toronto. Whether he remains a solid backup throughout his career is yet to be seen, but showcasing his value now could certainly see him become a starter in years to come.