Tuesday, July 27, 2010

the Case for Chris Campoli

So I'm reading through various comments sections in the Sens blogosphere and read the usual rants and raves about Roman Wick being a 50-goal scorer, Regin winning the Art Ross, Karlsson breaking Coffey's records, etc, when I notice a trend. The trend that feels Chris Campoli "just didn't work out" for us and that he doesn't have a role on this squad for what he brings.

Let me get this straight. The kid made a whopping $675K (cap hit) the past two seasons, is one year removed from a 30-point year with us and the Isles, and managed to snag 18 points in 67 games last year when he wasn't being benched. We have no room for this guy? You simply cannot argue that he doesn't belong here based on his own individual stats.

That being said, I understand that this team has a growing depth chart and he won't crack our top four (Phillips, Sarge, Karlsson, Kuba). We also know that Carkner is on a one-way deal and will likely slot into that 5-6 spot. That leaves one final spot for Campoli, Lee, or Cowen to compete. We know how Campy does against Lee, so I guess the question becomes whether or not 1) Cowen earns a spot on the roster, and 2) we want to go back to three full-time shutdown defencemen like we had last year. Again, Campoli gives us a presence on the second powerplay and an ability to move the puck up the ice against third and fourth lines. He's a modern-day Tom Preissing, except his agent isn't informing us during the Stanley Cup Finals that he can't wait to leave Ottawa in the off-season.

I looked at defencemen with similiar point totals as Campoli, understanding that his offensive skills are the only tangible part of his game. Given that he doesn't bang bodies or block shots, he isn't really comparable to guys like Regehr, Jackman, and Zbynek, all players in Campoli's point range. But other names were guys like Joe Corvo ($2.25M with Carolina), Tim Gleason ($2.75M with Carolina), Brad Stuart ($3.75M in Detroit), Nick Schultz (3.5M in Minnesota), Andrej Meszaros, remember him ($4M in Philly), and Marc-Edouard Vlasic ($3.1M in San Jose). These are all offensive defencemen that are on the second pairing and second powerplay unit at best. Campy managed his points with 3/4 of a season and third pairing minutes in the 17 minute range.

So given that Campoli is fighting for a spot in the top six, what do you pay him? That's where I have a problem with the parts of the fanbase that are saying we let him walk if it is over $1.5M. You wouldn't pay $1.5M for a 25-year old defenceman that likes Ottawa and has put up 30 points a year? He isn't a star in his own end but he isn't bad in his own end, either. Personally, I'm comfortable up to $2M with the guy just simply based on the fact that anything more than that just screws up our cap number. In all honesty, I think his agent can make an argument that he's worth over $2M and he'd have a case. We just need to try and get a 'good deal' on the kid and get him for less than 2.

On that same note, I'm a bit tired of seeing people say that Kuba isn't any good in his own end. He puts up 40pts and very, very rarely is out of position or making bad passes. For whatever reason, fans demand that all six defencemen score 40 points, block 200 shots, and hit forwards into the 8th row. With our budget, we aren't going to sign 6 Chris Prongers. We have to find a healthy mix of offensive players, defensive players, and the occasional hybrid that can do both. We don't get pissed when Phillips doesn't hit the 30 point mark, so why are we pissed when Campoli or Kuba don't block 5 shots a night? They all know their role on this squad, but do we?

And that is my case for Chris Campoli to come back and be a contributing member of these defensive group. Agree or disagree?