Defenseman Brian Campbell had solid first year with the Florida Panthers. In fact, not only did Campbell have a good year last season; he had a career year. It’s great to see a veteran player like Campbell come in, take a leadership role, and start producing but will his great numbers continue?
In the 2011-12 season Campbell put up 53 points for the Panthers and was a relentless assist man. The only other time in his career that he even came remotely close to those kind of numbers was in the 2008-09 season with the Chicago Blackhawks when Campbell racked up 52 points.
Despite his high number of points Campbell only had four goals for the entire season, which means he was making his living last year passing the puck and being a quarterback on the point. He’ll likely continue this role next season but there have been a couple of key personnel changes that may affect Campbell’s ability produce points.
The most notable difference next season will be the absence of Jason Garrison who led the charge on the Panthers’ power play and had a nice cannon from the back end. Garrison led the Cats in goals by a defenseman last year and his presence will surely be missed. The heir apparent to Garrison is Filip Kuba, who is a solid defenseman but like Campbell, has more of a tendency to pass the puck rather than shoot it.
The First Line
Fortunately for Campbell and the Panthers, the rest of last season’s first line will return in tact next season. Kris Versteeg, Stephen Weiss, and Tomas Fleischmann will all return as a first line unit and the Cats the young prospect Jonathan Huberdeau will also hit the ice in Sunrise next season, giving Campbell plenty of worthy outlets to push the puck off to.
Defense is a funny position. Most hockey fans don’t pay too much attention to stats like blocks and hits. In the NHL it’s all about how many points you put up, no matter what your position is. Campbell has put up good points in almost all of his NHL seasons but the most important things he brings tot eh table are the intangibles that aren’t tracked by a stat sheet. Not only is he one of the best defenders in the league, he’s a natural leader on the ice. Fortunately the Cats inherited Campbell’s contract that will keep him in South Florida until 2016.
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