As we reflect on the 2020-21 campaign for the Chicago Blackhawks, we can better assess which players stood out individually as well as who helped the team be more successful. These are the kinds of things management and the coaching staff are considering while they prepare to put together their roster for next season. Who was an asset, and who is expendable? On that note, today we evaluate David Kampf and his corresponding player grade.
Kampf’s Overall Statistics
-1 goal, 11 assists, 12 points, minus-3 in 56 games played. Average TOI of 14:40 minutes
-47.5 CF%, 14 blocked shots, 45 hits, 31 takeaways, 8 giveaways, 20 penalty minutes
A Defensive Forward
Let’s face it; everybody loves a goal-scorer!
Kampf is not a goal-scorer. But that’s not what he’s there for. The 26-year-old lined up as the Blackhawks’ fourth line center for the majority of this past season. In this role, Kampf is expected to shut down the opponent’s top lines. It’s his job to be hard to play against, as well as tilt the ice in a positive direction for the line that replaces him at the end of his shift. These are difficult things to do, and it’s easy to take for granted all the little things Kampf does well.
The Czech native led the team this season by starting 67.4% of the time in the defensive zone. Yet he still finished the season with a minus-3 plus/minus rating and with a 47.5 Corsi For percentage. That’s pretty impressive when you’re spending most of your time in the defensive zone. Touching on some of his other stats, Kampf’s 31 takeaways was tied for second on the team, and his eight giveaways were extremely low.
It’s obvious coach head coach Jeremy Colliton depends on Kampf to be responsible in the defensive zone so A) the other team doesn’t score, and B) the Blackhawks have opportunities to score. Kampf and his linemates do the dirty work, so the forwards that are more skilled at play-making and scoring can reap the rewards.
Another thing Kampf is extremely good at is winning faceoffs. He led the team in this department, winning 52.8 % of his draws. This was particularly important this past season, as top center and faceoff-winner Jonathan Toews was out of the lineup. The other centers didn’t do much to help Kampf out in this department. Dylan Strome’s season faceoff percentage was 47%, Pius Suter’s was 42.6%, and Kirby Dach’s was 40%. Plus, Kampf by far took the most draws on the team; at 777 draws. Suter was 2nd with 625 draws (over 100 less) & Strome 3rd with 421 draws.
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Well, Toews is gonna be back next season, you say, and he can take over winning the draws. But Toews is top line, goal scoring material and should start the majority of his time in the offensive zone starts. You need someone to win those defensive zone draws and flip the ice for him to have that opportunity to score. That’s where Kampf’s skills become very valuable.
Penalty Kill Prowess
Kampf was also an integral member of the penalty kill this past season, adding to his value as an overall utility player. He recorded just over 129 minutes of shorthanded ice time, being the top forward in this area. This was third on the team overall behind defensemen Duncan Keith & Connor Murphy.
Unfortunately, the Blackhawks penalty kill regressed this season. They were 28th in the league with only a 76.8% success rate, compared to being 9th in the 2019-20 season with an 82.1% success rate. Nonetheless, these are not easy minutes to play. Kudos to Kampf for taking this responsibility in stride.
One thing to note; considering the young centers’ success at the dot, it’s a bit surprising Kampf only won 41.7% of his draws on the penalty kill. This is something that could be improved upon moving forward.
Progressing to the Mean
I discussed numerous reasons above why Kampf is an asset to the team despite not scoring goals. But…
What if he could pick up his production? History shows he has this potential. In both the 2017-18 and the 2018-19 season Kampf scored four goals and earned 11 and 19 points, respectively. In the 2019-20 season he notched eight goals and 16 points.
A lot was put on Kampf’s plate this past season as the team integrated several new players into the lineup. It’s safe to say that with more depth and more players up to speed, Kampf will pick up his offensive game. Here’s a look at his lone goal this past season.
This was shortly after Adam Gaudette was acquired by the Blackhawks at the trade deadline, and he transitioned into the lineup on the fourth line. You can see how he used his offensive skill to get the puck on net. Ryan Carpenter provided the screen, and Kampf was at the right place at the right time to clean up the rebound. With the right linemates, this could easily become a more frequent occurrence for Kampf.
Kampf’s Overall Grade: A-
Kampf commendably did what was asked of him this season for the Blackhawks. His impact was vital to the success of the team. Even so, he could easily be one of the players exposed at the expansion draft to the Seattle Kraken. The Blackhawks have a number of skilled forwards they might want to protect ahead of him. He’s also a restricted free agent this offseason, so he will need to be re-signed with a new contract.
Related – Chicago Blackhawks 2020-21 Player Grades
It would be in the best interest of the team to attempt to keep Kampf in the fold. If they do lose him or choose not to re-sign him, I believe they will sorely miss his contributions.
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