Brian Campbell may be one of the most underrated defensemen in the league. Sure, with only 3 goals and 24 assists, his totals may not be as impressive as those of other big-name players. He isn’t a flashy young defenseman like Aaron Ekblad or Seth Jones (of the Nashville Predators). Instead, this year, he has taken on more of a mentorship role. Playing alongside Aaron Ekblad for most of the year, Campbell was a quiet power. He helped Aaron Ekblad develop into the Calder Trophy-worthy player that he now is. Not to mention the fact that Campbell has played over 300 consecutive games, and has never missed a game since joining the Panthers. Although Brian Campbell is not a loud and proud player, his leadership role on and off the ice has made him an irreplaceable player on the Panthers.
Keep reading for more on Brian Campbell.
Brian Campbell had by far the best SAT (Shot Attempts — basically corsi) at 5 on 5 this season. His SAT number is 229, and the next closest is Aaron Ekblad with 184. Basically what this means is that even though Brian Campbell is not a scoring machine, he is usually on the ice when the puck goes in. In fact, besides the SAT ahead (a title which Aaron Ekblad holds), Brian Campbell is leading in every other SAT-based statistic. So, even though he only had 27 points this season, Campbell still played a huge part on the team. The fact that Brian Campbell holds the number one spot in most of these commonly overlooked statistical categories is a true testament to how overlooked his abilities as a player are.
One of the things that Brian Campbell has going for him is his skating ability. He is able to defend from both ends of the ice and is almost always able to keep the puck in the correct zone. This is why the team often has him out on its new power play unit, having either him or Ekblad as the only defenseman on the ice with four forwards.
Time On Ice
Another reason for Campbell’s less-than-impressive amount of points is the fact that even more than most other defensemen, Brian Campbell gets most of his ice time in the defensive zone. This year, Brian Campbell ranked 31st in the league in time-on-ice. This average time on ice amount, 23 minutes and 12 seconds, is the best on the Panthers as well. This, once again, provides evidence that Brian Campbell is always helping out, on and off the ice.
Brian Campbell is not like most defensemen. He’s not one to crash into the boards, and he almost never fights. Aside from a weird streak of tripping calls, Campbell usually does not get called for penalties. He plays more like a classic defenseman, with the goal being to stop the opponent from taking control of the puck. He tends to achieve this goal peacefully. In his early to mid twenties, Brian Campbell did have some nasty hits and participated in a few intense fights. For instance, in 2006, RJ Umberger took a pretty tough hit from Campbell. Yet, those days are over for the 35 year old defenseman. With age, he has steered clear from this technique and has taken a more clean route.
A peaceful Brian Campbell during a fight:
Brian Campbell hit on RJ Umberger:
Brian Campbell doesn’t score all that often, but all three goals he scored this season were goals that helped the Panthers to get points. Campbell scored a beautiful top-shelf goal at 9:58 into the third period against the New York Islanders to begin the Panthers’ comeback. The Cats would go on to lose that game in the shootout, but it was the work from Campbell that earned the Panthers the extra point. Brian Campbell was one of the six players that scored in a very back-and-forth game against the Calgary Flames. The game was tied 4-4 at the beginning of the 3rd frame until at 9:29 into the period, when Soupy scored on a slap shot that found its way through the traffic from the blue line. Campbell put the Panthers in the lead once again in a game against the Edmonton Oilers. At 6:56 into the 2nd period, Campbell retaliated against a goal by Jordan Eberle that occurred at 4:07 into that same period. Campbell did what he does best and scored off of a slap shot from close to the blue line (which has seemed to be his sweet spot throughout his seasons with the Cats). The three goals that Campbell scored may be few in number, but each one had a large impact on its respective game.
Each of the goals explained is linked at the end of the post.
Brian Campbell is not your average ostentatious defenseman. He is a minivan-driving family man who happens to be an excellent mentor and leader. Not to mention the fact that he isn’t too bad at hockey either, but that’s already clear from some of the more advanced statistics. I may be a little biased because he is my favorite player, but I truly believe that Brian Campbell is the best defenseman and one of the best overall players on the Panthers right now. I look forward to seeing how he will continue to perform next year on this very teacher-student oriented team.
Be on the look out for more player spotlights from the COTP Staff soon!
Click here to see Brian Campbell’s goal against the Islanders on 11/14/14
Click here to see Brian Campbell’s goal against the Flames on 1/09/15
Click here to see Brian Campbell’s goal against the Oilers on 1/11/15