It’s amazing that a player with the talent Brian Campbell has is being over looked. With all the attention in Boston with Zdeno Chara, in Nashville with Ryan Suter and Shea Weber, and Ottawa with Erik Karlsson, Campbell is content with being under the radar. With the Panthers on the verge of clinching a playoff berth for the first time in a dozen years, one has to sit and think, did many people believe this was possible back in September? Well, there were many obstacles that the Panthers had to overcome, and as of right now, the Panthers have exceeded beyond anyone’s expectations. Brian Campbell is just one variable to how far the Panthers have come.
We all know the story. Campbell was given a humungous contract a few years ago by Chicago and he was often criticsized for making that type of money. The problem was that Campbell was not seen as the go to guy. Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook were those two guys, while Campbell was a 2nd tier guy. Dale Tallon knew that if Campbell would be that go to guy once again he wouldn’t let the team down. Campbell was acquired by the Panthers during the draft for, it’s safe to say a turkey sandwich. (Sorry Olesz, but not really).
Personally, having Brian Campbell has been probably the biggest acquisition Dale Tallon made, even though there are other really solid candidates. Campbell not only is currently ranked tied for 2nd in the ENTIRE NHL in points for a defenseman, but he leads the NHL in total average ice time with a tremendous 26:54 per game. His 45 assists also have him ranked 2nd in the league for defenseman. And his 28 power play points currently have him ranked 3rd in the NHL only behind fellow All Stars Evgeni Malkin and Claude Giroux. Another stat that is underlooked is that Brian Campbell has 19 points in 21 games vs. Division Opponents. Outstanding if you ask me.
With all these rankings, Brian Campbell has been mentioned on NHL.com that he is considered a good candidate to win the Lady Byng Award, which is awarded to the player with the best sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct while still playing at a high standard. Other candidates are Jordan Eberle, Matt Moulson and Loui Erikkson. No defenseman has won it in over 50 years, and only two defenseman have in the trophy’s existence. Any time your mentioned for n NHL award, you must be doing something right. I would also go as far as to have him be a candidate for the Norris Trophy, awarded to the Most Outstanding Defenseman. Other good options are Erik Karlsson, Shea Weber and Zdeno Chara.
In the end, Brian Campbell continues to play high quality hockey night in a night out. His contributions on offense have been spectacular, but his defensive play can not be overlooked. His smooth skating ability reminds me of another former Panther All Star, but he is dead to us now (cough* Bouw* cough). His amazing ice awareness makes him deadly any time during the game and his cardiovascular fitness has to be one of the best in the league. Campbell has been preaching playoffs since day 1, and many didn’t believe him. How you like us now?
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