LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 25: Jack Campbell, drafted 11th by the Dallas Stars, poses for a portrait during the 2010 NHL Entry Draft at Staples Center on June 25, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Editors Note: From time to time, Will Ferrell will go back to SNL and take over the show, spending some time with the little people he left behind. Let us now take a moment to watch Brandon Worley do the same here at DBD. I kid. Brandon, of Pro Hockey Talk @ NBC Sports is stil a Dallas Stars fan and he has some sharing to do today...
Hey everyone. I'm getting ready to make my trip back to the East coast from Los Angeles, and I wanted to share some thoughts with you from the 2010 NHL Entry Draft -- specifically some information on the Dallas Stars draft.
While I hinted on Thursday that the Dallas Stars were leaning towards Jack Campbell as their pick at #11, I decided against coming out and saying exactly what was going to happen: I knew the Stars were going to pick Campbell, and the only way that wasn't going to happen was if he was already picked. It didn't matter if Cam Fowler or Brandon Gormley fell -- which they did -- the Stars were dead set on drafting Campbell.
Talking with Campbell the day before the draft, several times in fact, it was obvious why the Stars liked this guy. Forget his incredible talent in net; he's an extremely confident and hungry hockey player with an undying passion for the game. When I started to talk to him about going to the Stars, I'm not exagerating when saying that his "eyes lit up.". He got a big smile on his face, and said several times that the Stars were the one team he'd love to play for.
After he was drafted, he said that going to the Stars was like a "dream come true." He's idolized Marty Turco, and he's worked extensively with Stars goaltending coach Mike Valley in the past. Here was a kid that wanted nothing more than to give his all and play for the Stars, and you know that made a great impression with Nieuwendyk and company.
If you haven't seen Campbell play, find a highlight video of the World Juniors. The man dominates in net, and he has a tireless drive to be at his best, all the time. He's not going to take a game off, or have a mental lapse from game to game. His mental makeup matches his physical talent, which is rare amongst goaltenders his age. It's important to remember that when he was 18, Marty Turco fell to the fifth round.
Those I spoke to here at the draft feel that Campbell can be ever better.
Speaking of Nieuwendyk, he said afterward that Campbell was their target from the very start. I'm sure many of you wonder why they would choose to pass up "top guy" talent like Fowler and Gormley, but there's a reason that those two fell that far.
Cam Fowler had been the supposed lock at the third pick until the past few months, when questions about his ceiling and overall potential began to surface and he was quickly overshadowed by the emergence of Erik Gudbranson. Fowler is a special player, but as with 95% of the draft there's no guarantee that he will be great at the next level. The same with Gormley, a player who is good at many things but not great; he's just a solid all-around player.
Neither of those two were going to be in the NHL next season, and likely not for a few years. With Fowler's overall potential in question, the word I kept getting was that he may end up just being a great AHL player -- of course, he could realize his full potential and talent and be a great defenseman for the Ducks in four or five years. That's the risk you take.
As an aside -- I talked to a number of team personnel and scouts, who all feel that Ivan Vishnevsky had reached his ceiling in the AHL with the Texas Stars, and was never going to be the next great defenseman the Stars had originally hoped he would be. There's also the thought he'll likely end up in the KHL.
So the Stars were set on Jack Campbell, and as soon as he was picked I knew that the Stars faithful would be ready to revolt. When you are all geared up for a nice, big defenseman and you get a goaltender, I can understand some frustration. As I said then, however, that we shouldn't judge until we see what the rest of the draft is like.
As soon as the Stars selected Patrik Nemeth int he second round, that first round selection of Campbell was instantly turned into a great, golden pick.
Many people may have said "who the heck is Nemeth?" when the pick came down. Understandable, when you consider he wasn't projected very high until the last few months. But when the pick was made, one of the scouts sitting in front of me exclaimed "Wow...great pick!"
I started to ask around about Nemeth, as I hadn't really researched the Swedish or European players as much, and the consistent comparison I got on Nemeth was "a faster, bigger, meaner Nicklas Grossman". He may not be the next Niklas Lidstrom with the puck, he's never going to score many goals and he's not going to lead the rush up the ice. But he's also very smart with the puck, makes great decisions defensively and does not turn the puck over.
Unlike another defenseman drafted in the first round.
So here's what the Stars drafted: a big, shut down defenseman who will likely be in the NHL in 2012 and a goaltender ready to take over as a franchise goalie in less than five years. When he's 23.
Many ask why the Stars drafted a goaltender when they just signed Kari Lehtonen to an extension, a goaltender who is supposed to be the next franchise guy. Campbell wasn't drafted for this season, or next season -- he was drafted for four years from now, to come in as a backup for a year before eventually taking over. Lehtonen is going to be great as a Stars goaltender, but eventually the Stars needed to draft their next "guy", a netminder they can hang their hat on to be the cornerstone of the franchise 10 years from now.
That is what Jack Campbell is. Goaltenders like Campbell don't come around every year, a guy who thrives when the pressure is the highest and who is at his best when the game is on the line. The Stars had their chance to draft a special player, and they took that chance. Some may think they reached at #11, but there was no way he'd make to their second round pick -- and Calvin Pickard is not on the same level as Campbell.
Every draft is a risk. There's going to be a superstar that was drafted in the fifth or sixth round. Most of the players drafted this weekend will never step foot in the NHL. Jack Campbell is about as solid a guarantee as you can get, and the Stars knew it.
Finally, here's a snapshot of the type of guy Jack Campbell is.
Every player in the first round is asked about their timeline for making the jump to the NHL, and generally they talk about a few more years in the juniors or that they're headed off to college or the USHL. Outside of perhaps the top five picks, many of these players understand they won't be in the NHL next season.
Jack Campbell was emphatic that he want's to prove he can play for the Stars next season. He will do whatever the team asks of him and feel is best for his development, but he's going into training camp with the mentality of making the NHL roster in October. He's scheduled to head to Windsor of the WHL next season, but when asked he hinted that wasn't a guarantee - he wants to make an impact with the Stars as soon as possible.
"I can't wait until I'm winning games for the Dallas Stars, and that's all I want to do right now."