I kinda struggled with who to list fourth here in our Blueliners Top to Bottom feature. In terms of performance and games played last year, Campoli wasn't really around that long. But in terms of depth chart and importance to the team this year, Campoli slides nicely into that second pairing and top four minutes on the depth chart.
I was a big fan of the Campoli trade not just because it brought Comrie back (I haven't hid my affection for the skill that Comrie brings), but because I've seen Campoli as an untapped potential. Whether he was misused on the Island is irrelevant as he's ours now, and the question is whether or not he can thrive under the Clouston model. Campoli is a very strong passer and very strong skater, but isn't great at taking hits or a lot of pressure from a forecheck. If Clouston wants us playing an up-tempo game in all three zones, then Clouston will have to modify his game so that he can make a strong first pass a little bit quicker. Like Kuba, Campoli won't have to face the Ovechkins and Crosbys of the league and instead will be passing up ice against role players.
Another thing that I like about Campoli is that he seems like he's a good dude. I think he knows a good opportunity when it's in front of him, and he knows that his trade to Ottawa, coupled with this being a quasi-contract year (RFA next summer) presents him with a golden chance to make a permanent spot for himself on this roster. The downside is that if he does pretty well and Karlsson develops quickly, his agent might Preissing him right out of here with a contract demand that doesn't fit the structure. We're going to need to keep Campoli in that $2M range after this season for this to work. But that's next summer, let's focus on the now. I see Campoli rising to the occasion this season and putting up similar numbers to Kuba and really establishing himself as a legit NHL defenceman and not just a guy that cracks the lineup on non-playoff teams.
Best moment as a Senator: Well, he only had 25 games in town, so this is a tough one. He put up a pair of assists in his first game in Ottawa in a losing effort to Montreal and went on to post 7 points in his first 7 games. And here's a look at his first goal as a Senator against the Oil
Worst moment as a Senator: Again, not much to draw from as he wasn't around long enough to screw up too much. Plus, Campoli benefited from skipping the Hartsburg era and jumping right into the euphoria of the Clouston era.
2009-10 Expectation: Like I said earlier, this is an important season for Campoli. In fact, it isn't a stretch to say that this will be his most important season in his young career, given that he is being given an opportunity to put up some points and he's up for a new contract next summer. Add to that the pressure of being in the middle of the depth chart with two first round picks starting to breath down his neck in Karlsson and Cowen (three, if you are in the camp that believes Lee will have a big year). Look to Campoli to play 18-20 minutes a night, including a key role on the second powerplay unit. I really think he'll rise to the occasion as he has the speed to play Clouston's system and the hands to move the puck up the ice. His biggest weakness will need to be addressed and that is taking a hit and not giving up the puck in the process. He reminds me a lot of Happy Feet Corvo as he wants to absorb the hit and let the puck sit at his feet. The problem is that the hit can take him out of the play and the puck is there for the forecheckers to scoop away.
If Karlsson cracks the lineup, then I think he's paired with Kuba for the learning experience. If Karlsson goes to Bingo or back to Sweden, then Campoli will get those minutes alongside Kuba and will have a great opportunity to exceed his totals from last season. Kuba can help him with defensive zone coverage without holding him back offensively. Long story short, I think Campoli will be worth the first round pick.
Projection: Write this down - Campoli will be our goal scoring defenceman. Count on 15 goals and 22 assists for 37 points and a +6.
Am I out of my mind with this projection? Those 15 goals would be the most from a defenceman in Ottawa since Chara in 05-06.
Ups and Downs: Week 16
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