Jack Campbell Will Be Toronto Maple Leafs Most Important Player

Toronto Maple Leafs - Jack Campbell (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
Toronto Maple Leafs - Jack Campbell (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images) /

After Gary Bettman mentioned earlier this week that NHL teams will most likely be playing in hub cities next year, the Toronto Maple Leafs are going to need to rely on their back-up goaltender

The Toronto Maple Leafs are hoping that Jack Campbell turns into the type of player that warranted being selected 11th overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft because he’ll be called upon often next season.

The coronavirus has changed the landscape of sport and it unfortunately doesn’t look like things will be going back to normal anytime soon. As a result, the hub cities will remain for the 2020-21 NHL season.

Although the MLB and NFL seasons worked with hub cities, the NHL is different because of the boarder. Canadians are not allowed to travel to the United States without having to quarantine for 14 days when they return, so the idea of travelling back and forth for the seven Canadian teams seems impossible.

Therefore, the idea of an All-Canadian format is looking to be introduced, while the rest of the NHL will also play in hubs. Bettman mentioned the following during the 2020 Paley International Council Summit earlier this week, in regards to the hub cities:

"“You’ll play for 10 to 12 days…You’ll play a bunch of games without traveling. You’ll go back, go home for a week, be with your family. We’ll have our testing protocols and all the other things you need.It’s not going to be quite as effective as a bubble, but we think we can, if we go this route, minimize the risks to the extent practical and sensible. And so that’s one of the things that we’re talking about.”"

The NHLPA would definitely have been opposed to another two-month bubble, so this is a solution that helps the players and the league. Players can play a ton of games in a short period of time and then return home to their family for a week. That’s incredibly important for everyone involved.

With so many games played in a short timeframe, this means that the Toronto Maple Leafs back-up goaltender will be even more important.

Jack Campbell Will Have To Play Lots Next Year

Freddie Andersen’s work-load has been a huge question over his tenure in Toronto. In his last four seasons, Andersen has started at least 70 percent of all Toronto Maple Leafs games. He’d be in a much better position if it was closer to 60 percent.

Everyone knows that Andersen’s struggled in the playoffs over the past few years, but his best numbers came when the team was given a break due to the pandemic. Andersen was lights-out in five games against Columbus and one could argue that it was due to rest. We can’t say that for certain, but I’d like to think that played a large factor.

Now that the NHL has tightened their schedule, Jack Campbell is going to need to play a ton. If the league is looking to play in a stretch of 10-to-12 days, I’d imagine teams will be playing anywhere between 6-to-8 games in that timeframe. They’re going to jam-pack teams with back-to-back’s and as a result, Andersen is going to need to rest.

You may think this could be a concern for the Toronto Maple Leafs, but I think it’ll be a benefit. The team is young enough to withstand back-to-back’s and Campbell in my opinion is ready to prove his worth.

Campbell has two seasons remaining on his contract, while Andersen’s expires after this year. Therefore, if Campbell performs at a high-level, it’s quite possible the team could promote him to their starter in 2021-22. With a $1.6M cap-hit, the $5M saved from Andersen’s contract could allow them to sign another forward/defenseman and make the team much better.

Campbell’s yet to get a long stretch as a back-up in the NHL, but in the one opportunity he was given in 2018-19, he was awesome. In 31 games played, he finished with a .928 save percentage (Sv %) and 2.30 goals against average (GAA) (stats via: hockeydb.com). He may have had a 10-14-1 record, but that winning percentage shouldn’t matter when he was playing on a rebuilding Los Angeles Kings team.

If Campbell put up those numbers for the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team most likely would have won 70 percent of their games, because they averaged 3.4 goals per game. Obviously the LA Kings defense was better structured than Toronto, but the starter Jonathan Quick had a .888 Sv% and 3.38 GAA in 41 games played that year, so it clearly wasn’t just a system that guided Campbell to his impressive stat-line.

Either way, with the logjam of games, I’d expect Sheldon Keefe to play Campbell in every back-to-back and then give him a few more starts than normal. The Toronto Maple Leafs should want to see as much of Campbell as possible and use this season as a dress-rehearsal for 2021-22.

Next. Top 5 Most Hated Maple Leafs. dark

Let’s hope the team uses this duo as a 1A and 1B type of situation so that both goalies are fresh for the playoffs. Whenever that actually happens.