With Petr Mrazek suffering a groin injury, the Toronto Maple Leafs are going to have to lean on Jack Campbell more than they expected.
If there is one thing that we have learned in the NHL today, having depth at the goaltending position is crucial and the Toronto Maple Leafs know this all too well.
Last season, Frederik Andersen struggled with an injury which forced Jack Campbell to take over and he, unfortunately, missed about a month with a groin injury. Michael Hutchinson would step in and show that he could play at the NHL level which he did when called upon and hopefully, the same can happen now.
This season, the situation is a little different with Petr Mrazek expected to be in a tandem with Campbell. He only lasted 40 minutes in his first start of the season after suffering a groin injury at the end of the second period against the Ottawa Senators.
There shouldn’t be a lack of confidence in Campbell’s ability to play a long stretch of games. He pretty much assumed the starting role when he returned from his groin injury last season and gave the Leafs above-average goaltending.
At no point in his career has Campbell played more than 31 games in a season which is why the Leafs didn’t want to put him in a situation where he would play between 50 to 65 games. He now has every opportunity to prove that he can handle the workload.
Jack Campbell can set himself up for a big payday through this stretch of games
With Campbell in the final year of his contract, this is where he can start to show teams that he is more than just a tandem goalie. Part of that not only comes with how he plays but keeping himself from getting sidelined with an injury.
Part of what gets a goalie a fair contract in free agency is their dependability and durability. For the Leafs, they didn’t give Mrazek a contract that suggests he’s a bonafide starting goaltender but enough that he will play a significant amount of games.
It is also an insurance policy in case Campbell prices himself out in free agency and the Leafs need to find another option that can work in a tandem with Mrazek. Of course, the ideal situation is that the Leafs can keep “Soup” around and he can help make the decision easier by showing he can counted on to produce when the team needs him for a long stretch.
It’s safe to say that a goalie who puts up a 17-3-2 record with a .921 SV% and 2.15 GAA in a shortened season is in a position to get a nice salary bump. On top of that, he’s already come out of the gate strong saving 41 of the 42 shots he’s faced.
What are your thoughts on Campbell being asked to play a bigger role? Is he capable of showing that he can be a starting goalie over a long-term period? Let us know in the comments below.