Can the Maple Leafs Find a Jack Campbell Clone?

Jack Campbell has been an excellent goalie for the Toronto Maple Leafs since they acquired him on February 5th, 2020. We’ve already covered his successes, and his failures, as a Maple Leafs’ goalie.

Is Campbell the Top Free-Agent Goalie This Offseason?

Now the Maple Leafs find themselves in a position where the odds are they’ll lose Campbell to free agency. In an article written on January 27, 2022, Chris Wassel of picked Campbell as the top number one free agent goalie available this summer over Darcy Kuemper and Marc-Andre Fleury. 

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

We’re seeing estimates of a $5 million contract over four or five years bandied about as the potential cost to sign Campbell as a UFA. This is most likely not a sum that the Maple Leafs would, or could, afford.

Not Long Ago, No One Knew Who Jack Campbell Was

We can’t forget that when the Maple Leafs acquired Jack Campbell just over two years ago he was not considered invaluable to any NHL team. He was simply Jonathon Quick’s backup. 

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After being drafted a decade previously, Campbell had played a total of 58 NHL games in the ten years since. Four years prior to the Maple Leafs acquiring Campbell, he was playing in the ECHL, a step below the American Hockey League. 

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These comments are not meant to disparage Campbell in any way. He has, as we previously mentioned, played great for the Maple Leafs. Our purpose is to remind people that, until Campbell landed in Toronto, the majority of Maple Leafs’ fans, heck, the majority of NHL fans anywhere, did not have a clue who Campbell even was. 

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

In 77 regular-season games and 14 playoff games, Campbell has seemingly gone from being “Jack Who?” to being seen as an essential part of a team that’s trying to take that next agonizing leap in its development. 

It’s Probably Time to Cut the Strings

Rather than worrying about whether the Maple Leafs should potentially overpay a goalie who could just as easily return to being “Jack Who?” next season as he is to become their savior, maybe we should be asking “Is there another Jack Campbell out there somewhere?”

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Is there a backup goalie for another team out there who could potentially do what Campbell has done for the Maple Leafs? 

Two possible replacements for Campbell have been mentioned by the readers on this site. 

Replacement One: Ville Husso

Ville Husso is a 27-year-old goalie from Finland who is coming off of a two-year, $750,000 contract with the St. Louis Blues. He’s also an unrestricted free agent (UFA). Husso played 40 games in this past regular season for the Blues, posting a 25-7-6 record, a 0.919 save percentage, and a goals-against-average of 2.56.  

Ville Husso St. Louis Blues
Ville Husso, St. Louis Blues (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He’s struggled in four games played for the Blues in the playoffs, going 1-3 with a 0.891 save percentage and a 3.38 goals-against average. With Jordan Binnington ruled out after a collision with none other than Nazem Kadri last night, we’ll see how Husso does for the rest of the series. However, he might be available.

Replacement Two: Casey DeSmith

Casey DeSmith is an undrafted 30-year-old from Rochester, New Hampshire. He’s played 96 games in the past four seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins, sporting a 43-28-11 record, a 0.915 save percentage, and a 2.67 goals-against average. DeSmith’s expiring contract pays him $1.25 Million per season. 

Casey DeSmith, Pittsburgh Penguins
Casey DeSmith, Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Both these goalies (even together, if you wished) would undoubtedly cost the Maple Leafs a lot less than Campbell would. Both might also relish the opportunity to play a season or two in a market like Toronto, and ride that into a nice big contract similar to the one Campbell will likely get this coming summer.  

There Might Be Other Backups Out There Who Could Become a Solid Starter

Husso and DeSmith are but two potential candidates who could come in and fill Campbell’s skates. There might also be others out there who are just as available and just as worthy.  

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Is there anyone our readers think could fill the role? If so, let us know. 

[Note: I want to thank long-time Maple Leafs’ fan Stan Smith for collaborating with me on this post. Stan’s Facebook profile can be found here.]

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