The Maple Leafs’ baffling reluctance to re-sign Jack Campbell

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Here is my simple thought. If the Toronto Maple Leafs faced a similar goalie problem; and, if Jack Campbell was on another NHL team; and, if his contract expired as is and he became a UFA, I think the team would try to sign him in the blink of an eye. So why is there a reluctance to re-sign him now?

Campbell has been with the team for two seasons now, so we know him. For me, that gives the team even more reason to re-sign him. Again, I ask, why is there any reluctance?

Two considerations for re-signing Campbell

There are two considerations in re-signing Campbell for me. One is the head (the logic of it all), and the second is the heart (which as a fan I would like to happen).

As a fan, I would sign him now. He’s a solid goalkeeper; and, from all we see, his own teammates love him and play hard for him. He has a ton of fans who love him too, and the cheers of “Soooup” echoing the arena as he pulls off a superb save to energize the crowd. He’s also a great representative of the city and his demeanor matches the culture the team wants to create.

Jack Campbell Toronto Maple Leafs
Jack Campbell, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Campbell is also a great story. He started as a youngster with enormous potential; lost his way; but he came back. When the Maple Leafs picked him up from the Los Angeles Kings, he was (only) considered a capable backup goaltender; but it was something the team needed but couldn’t find – Garret Sparks hadn’t been the answer.

Related: Top 5 Goalkeepers of the 1960s

Then, as one THW reader so aptly put it, GM Kyle Dubas found lightning in a bottle. When Frederik Andersen was injured, Campbell came on and performed well. In fact, the whole team behaved well with him. Campbell set an NHL record for wins at the start of the season. And, even in this last playoff round, he outplayed Andrei Vasilevskiy by arguably outplaying Conn Smythe’s goaltender in five of the seven Round 1 games the two teams have played.

It’s possible to be both a Campbell and a Dubas fan

I confess that I am a big fan of Campbell. But I’m also a fan of Dubas. But it’s more my head than my heart. I just agree with the direction he has taken. I also appreciate the vision he (and other members of Maple Leafs management) have for the kind of hockey they believe can win a Stanley Cup.

Jack Campbell Toronto Maple Leafs
Jack Campbell, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

And I hope they’re right, because I hate – hate – what seems to be commonly referred to as “playoff” hockey. This hockey is best exemplified by the type of play which, after a skater has shot at a goalie and the goalie has made the save, the skater continues to rub against the goalie to make a double failure. Where every stoppage in play ends in some sort of face-washing scrimmage. Where it is acceptable to run the goalie, remove their mask while skating, or remove their glove with an “errant” stick. To me this is cheating and it hurts this amazing game.

I can’t be the only one feeling this.

My head also tells me that Campbell is worth it

My head also tells me that given the way money is spent in the NHL these days, Campbell’s request for over $4.5 million (which is my estimate of what he will take to sign it again) is out of step with the current rate. for strong keepers. It would be insulting to both sides if Dubas signed Campbell anything less than Petr Mrazek signed for last season.

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It would also be insulting to Dubas NOT to move Mrazek’s contract — one way or another — given that Campbell has performed so well for the team over the past two seasons. It makes sense to turn those funds into cash for Campbell’s contract. In fact, logic would suggest to me that not doing so would be a sure sign that, for some reason I don’t understand, the organization WANTS Campbell gone.

If Elliotte Friedman is correct that the organization’s starting bid was less than $3 million ($2.75 million according to the report), if you’re Campbell, what are you thinking? If that offer from the Maple Leafs is accurate, Campbell’s agent must be yelling at him that he should sign elsewhere when the free agent market opens on July 13.

Campbell deserves a nice raise. That’s how the hockey business works. The team’s salary cap is maxed; but that’s also how the hockey business works.

Related: Maple Leafs Made the Right Call Picking Campbell Over Andersen

Now it’s up to the Maple Leafs’ general manager to find a way to re-sign Campbell. I believe it will happen, although I don’t yet know the rabbit that will come out of the hat to make it so.

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