A Happy Campoli?

Well, it’s done, 1.4M/1 yr.

Rarely are arbitration induced deals in the “steal” category, and this one is no exception.  This isn’t to say it’s a bad deal, for either side, but there’s little doubt in my mind it is weighted more in potential performance than past performance.  Fair enough when you’re a 26 yr. old defenseman, but at some point it has to be rooted more in proven ability than potential ability, and that is why it is a one year term.  Campoli has one year to show he’s a legitimate top 4 pairing Dman, maybe not this year, but in the future years of any new contract.

Many have soured on Campy, a kid who has, in 5 seasons, shown flashes of brilliance (in terms of prospect potential), and flashes of, well, flash in the pan.  A rookie campaign in which he amassed 34 pts in 80 games (PROD – 43:33) put him on the radar as a potential future legit offensive Dman, but then, as is so often the case, he regressed in his sophomore season, suffering from an early groin strain, and bouncing back and forth from the AHL, not getting into an NHL match until near mid season.  His points totals expanded, along with his ice-time, and his “progress” (PROD – 54:01) was considered sufficiently on pace to land a tidy 3yr. deal from the Islanders brain trust, who were basking in the glow of a late season surge, resulting in a much needed post season appearance.

Then it began to go downhill.

2007/08 started of well, Chris graduated into a top 4 role, averaging over 19 min a game, and was scoring at a very respectable pace (PROD – 48:44).  Then the injury bug bit…hard.  In a game versus the Devils, Campoli finally succumbed to a nagging shoulder injury, and had to shut it down for the season, missing the final 36 games.

Then it went from bad to worse.  2008/09 started with a coaching change on the Island, and with it came a change in system.  No more wide open play, new coach Gordon expected defensive commitment, and in short order, the heretofore free wheeling Campoli found himself out of his comfort zone, and into the coaches dog house.  As the conflict grew, so did the loss column.  To put it mildly, the Islanders were terrible, terrible like a “Jersey Shore” marathon.  Although in a constant state of friction with Gordon, Campoli remained a go to Dman, logging an average of 19:49 a game.  Unfortunately, his production slipped, to a PROD of 59:27 over 51 games in an Islanders sweater.

Then came his escape.  Campoli was traded to Ottawa, along with Comrie, and seemed to  regain his offensive form, amassing a PROD of 36:27 while skating in 25 games for Ottawa, and, for the first time in his career, was a plus player.

In keeping with his short history in the NHL, the pendulum once again swung against him.  2009/10 was a season to forget for Chris.  With the emergence of Karlsson, Chris found himself a tweener.  Not a defensive Dman, but not a top flight offensive Dman.  Fortunately the injury to Kuba kept him relevant, and allowed him to skate in a total of 67 games, 8 lost to injury, and 7 lost to healthy scratch.  In that time Camps averaged a respectable 17:51 a game, but earned a PROD of only 66:26, the worst of his career.  On a positive note, his full season +/- was a modest -3, the best of his career.

So where does this contract, and history, leave Camps heading into the 2010/10 season?

That’s the 1.4M dollar question.  Of the 3 bottom pairing Dmen (Camps, Lee, and Carkner) Campoli has the most up side, but his salary is also substantially higher than those of his counterparts.  This means, in order to stick as a regular, he’ll have to regain his offensive form, and continue to progress in terms of his defensive play.  Due to role, Carks is likely a lock, leaving the battle for regular ice time between Lee and Camps, injuries notwithstanding.

To be fair to Campoli, he was fighting through a groin strain for much of last season, and for a player whos game is founded on speed and mobility, this surely hampered his ability to “show his stuff”.  I believe he will be given a chance to do so this season, ahead of Lee, unless performance dictates otherwise.  In fact, with Campoli playing in a “contract year”, I expect to see the best he has to offer, whatever that may be.  No doubt that is much of the reasoning behind having him under a one year term.  Both Lee and Camps represent players yet to prove their worth, and as such, the dose of healthy competition will no doubt test their mettle once and for all.

The wild card in all of this is the play of the young Dmen, Gryba, Wiercioch and Cowen (recovering from mono, not good).  Although I suspect they would have to play lights out in order to force the coach, and eventually GM, to keep them in the line-up ahead of players on one way deals (Carks, Camps, and Lee), until either an injury or trade should make their presence more viable.



One Response to “A Happy Campoli?”

  1. GN:

    We were lucky to have Campy still on the leash…this will prove to be a good omen!

    Ya gotta love these 1 yr contracts!

    Injury will shape this DEFENCE this year and that is not good!

    Like they used to say about battleships and heavy cruisers, our big DEFENCEMEN have to “punch their weight!”

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